Roadside Zoo Operator’s Tuberculosis Puts Employees and Animals at Risk of Exposure

PETA Calls On State and Federal Authorities to Take Action Against 'Joe Exotic'

For Immediate Release:
December 31, 2014

Contact:
Moira Colley 202-483-7382

Wynnewood, Okla. – After news hit that Joe Schreibvogel—or “Joe Exotic,” the operator of notorious roadside zoo The Garold Wayne Interactive Zoological Park (G.W. Zoo)—recently reported being diagnosed with tuberculosis and brucellosis, PETA rushed dual letters to Oklahoma State Veterinarian Dr. Rod Hall and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) asking authorities to quarantine the facility and take measures to evaluate employees and animals for exposure. Both diseases are dangerous and transmissible to animals and humans, posing a risk to the animals displayed at the park and unsuspecting visitors alike.

“It is possible Joe Schreibvogel contracted one or both of these diseases from wild deer carcasses that he fed to carnivores at his deplorable roadside zoo,” says PETA Foundation Deputy General Counsel Delcianna Winders. “By putting those around him at risk for the sake of a few dollars, Schreibvogel has shown once again that he cares as little about his employees and visitors as he does about the animals he imprisons, and PETA is warning everyone to stay far away from his facility.”

Schreibvogel has a long history of citations for endangering animals and humans. Among other violations, Schreibvogel is currently the subject of numerous USDA investigations, including one involving the deaths of two tiger cubs in May 2013 and one for the deaths of 23 baby tigers—and possibly hundreds of other animals—over a seven-month period from 2009 to 2010. PETA, whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment,” calls on compassionate people to spare animals like those imprisoned at G.W. Zoo a lifetime of suffering by avoiding roadside zoos.

For more information, please visit PETA.org.

 

PETA’s letter to the USDA is available upon request, and its letter to Oklahoma State Veterinarian Dr. Rod Hall follows.

 

December 31, 2014

 

Rod Hall, State Veterinarian
Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food, and Forestry
2800 N. Lincoln Blvd.
Oklahoma City, OK 73105

 

Re: Request for Investigation of The Garold Wayne Interactive Zoological Park Because of Operator’s Alleged Tuberculosis and Brucellosis Diagnosis

 

Dear Dr. Hall:

I am writing on behalf of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) to request that the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food, and Forestry promptly inspect The Garold Wayne Interactive Zoological Park (G.W. Zoo) in Wynnewood, Oklahoma. Joe Schreibvogel, the zoo’s operator, reported on his Facebook page (screenshot attached) and on his YouTube channel (see Video at 00:28:20, also being sent via UPS) that he tested positive for tuberculosis (TB) and likely suffers from brucellosis, both of which are dangerous and highly contagious zoonotic diseases. Please evaluate all animals confined to G.W. who are at risk of contracting these diseases as well as the facility’s employees and volunteers, institute quarantines as necessary, and ensure that appropriate treatment is administered without delay.

To PETA’s knowledge, G.W. employees have fed road-killed deer to big cats at the facility, and according to wildlife veterinarian Dr. Heather Rally, it’s possible that Schreibvogel contracted one or both of the diseases from a wild deer whom he used as feed for carnivores at the facility, who may also be suffering from the diseases as a result. Dr. Rally further cautions that all mammals are variably susceptible to contracting TB, depending on the species exposed and the strain of the pathogen. Therefore, all mammals at G.W. are potentially at risk if TB has been introduced to the property, as are the visitors to the facility. Despite Schreibvogel’s diagnoses, recently posted content (attached) appears to show him continuing to work closely with animals and among visitors and staff.

As a member of the United States Animal Health Association Committee on Tuberculosis, you are no doubt aware of the danger of the disease if it spreads to other animals, employees, volunteers, and members of the public who visit G.W.

Please ensure that all animals who could be affected and all employees and volunteers are tested for both tuberculosis and brucellosis and that the facility is quarantined until it is determined to be safe for the general public.

Thank you for your attention to this important and time-sensitive matter.

Very truly yours,

Delcianna Winders, Esq.
Deputy General Counsel
Captive Animal Law Enforcement
PETA Foundation

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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“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