Pymatuning Deer Park Sued Over Failure to Care for Lions, Other Animals

For Immediate Release:
April 14, 2021

Contact:
David Perle 202-483-7382

Jamestown, Pa. – This morning, PETA and the Animal Legal Defense Fund filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania against Pymatuning Deer Park, alleging that the roadside zoo’s mistreatment of big cats, lemurs, and other protected animals violates the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

The suit alleges, among other things, that Pymatuning failed to supply appropriate veterinary care to a tiger who was shot to death without receiving a physical exam. An injured young lion was trapped in an adjacent dark, squalid holding area when the three gunshots were fired. He was held there for two months after he was attacked the first of multiple times by another lion and now suffers from impaired coordination and muscle wasting. Pymatuning also holds emotionally complex ring-tailed lemurs in a small, barren enclosure, denying them the opportunity to forage, climb, or hide, and confines a highly intelligent macaw to a cramped cage with almost nothing to touch or do. The groups allege that the facility’s mistreatment of all animals there—including Bosco the bear—constitutes a public nuisance under state law and are asking the court to issue an order that the animals be transferred to reputable facilities.

Since PETA and the Animal Legal Defense Fund notified Pymatuning of their intent to sue (as required under the ESA) in December, a bearcat and an ESA-protected black-and-white ruffed lemur named Lola were killed in a fire that was reportedly caused by an electric heater. Prior to her death, Lola had been held in long-term solitary confinement, even though she was a member of a highly social species.

“This disgusting facility has shot animals, let them die in a fire, and caused scores of others to suffer—and this must stop,” says PETA Foundation Deputy General Counsel for Captive Animal Law Enforcement Brittany Peet. “The plaintiffs look forward to bringing Pymatuning Deer Park before a judge and getting the animals to suitable facilities where their lives can finally begin.”

“The animals exploited by Pymatuning, including endangered species, are kept in conditions that are unacceptable and illegal,” says Animal Legal Defense Fund Executive Director Stephen Wells. “State and federal animal protection laws exist so that animals won’t be forced to live without adequate veterinary care in barren, depressing enclosures. We will seek to enforce these laws to allow them to engage in their natural behavior.”

Pymatuning has also kept Bosco, who shows signs of arthritis, in an antiquated concrete pit for decades; puts vulnerable baby animals, including bear cubs and kangaroo joeys who have been prematurely separated from their mothers, on display; and allows the public to have unsupervised contact with various animals, including parakeets, in its “budgie barn.”

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview that fosters violence toward other animals. For more information, please visit PETA.org or ALDF.org or follow PETA on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

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“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind