Sloth’s Death at Roadside Zoo Prompts Call for Cruelty Charges

PETA Releases Inspection Report Revealing That Emaciated Animal Died From Blunt Force Trauma at Debbie Dolittle's Indoor Petting Zoo

For Immediate Release:
February 6, 2020

David Perle 202-483-7382

Tacoma, Wash. – This morning, PETA sent a letter calling on Pierce County Animal Control to investigate Debbie Dolittle’s Indoor Petting Zoo, its operator Donald Miller, and all other culpable parties after the death of a young female sloth who was being used for public encounters at the facility—and to charge them with cruelty to animals.

According to a recently released U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) inspection report from December 10, 2019, the sloth, Malia, died in October after falling from a climbing structure. A necropsy found that she was suffering from “severe emaciation, indications of chronic stress, and older bruising to the body wall,” leading the USDA to note that these findings were consistent with mishandling and neglect. PETA points out that the necropsy provides evidence of what appears to be a violation of Washington law, which states that a person is guilty of first-degree animal cruelty when they negligently starve an animal.

“Any reasonable animal-care facility would notice if an animal were wasting away from starvation,” says PETA Foundation Supervising Veterinarian Dr. Heather Rally. “PETA is calling on Pierce County Animal Control to hold Debbie Dolittle’s Indoor Petting Zoo responsible for the neglect that likely played a role in this vulnerable young animal’s death.”

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment” and which opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview— further notes that the USDA previously cited Debbie Dolittle’s for a violation of the federal Animal Welfare Act following the death of a young tamandua just three months before Malia died.

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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