Sonny Perdue Sued by PETA Over Bayou Wildlife Park’s License Renewal

USDA Rubber-Stamped Roadside Zoo's Renewal Application Despite Dozens of Federal Animal Welfare Act Violations

For Immediate Release:
May 15, 2018

David Perle 202-483-7382

Alvin, Texas – PETA filed a lawsuit this morning against U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Sonny Perdue that challenges his agency’s automatic renewal of federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA) licenses, even when it knows that the applicants—such as Bayou Wildlife Park (aka “Bayou Wildlife Zoo”) in Alvin—are in violation of the act. The AWA prohibits licensing a facility that can’t demonstrate that it’s operating in accordance with the act, and last summer, the USDA announced that it would consider revamping its AWA licensing practices so that facilities with a history of noncompliance aren’t handed renewals year after year, which violates the law. However, before the USDA renewed Bayou Wildlife Park’s license, the facility was cited for 42 violations of the AWA, including failing to provide animals with clean drinking water, safe and sanitary enclosures, and adequate veterinary care. During just one inspection, the agency found 19 separate violations, including involving a ram who was forced to move about on his knees because his hooves were so overgrown that he couldn’t stand without pain and a cow and an antelope who were so thin that their bones were visible. When the USDA returned five days later, the cow and the antelope had both died without having been seen by a veterinarian.

“PETA is calling on Secretary Perdue to stop violating the law by letting the USDA sign off on license renewals when the agency knows that applicants are mistreating animals and consistently out of compliance with federal law,” says PETA Foundation Vice President of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Delcianna Winders. “The government shouldn’t hand out licenses to facilities that leave animals to suffer and even drop dead in their filthy enclosures.”

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—notes that shortly after renewing Bayou Wildlife Park’s AWA license, the USDA cited it for 11 violations of the AWA, including failing to give adequate veterinary care to the ram, who was still walking on his knees, and six other animals who’d died of unknown causes. Animals continue to die at this facility: In March, the agency cited it for the deaths of 20 axis deer, including a newborn who had apparently been eaten by buzzards.

Other facilities implicated in PETA’s lawsuit include roadside zoos in Arizona, Colorado, Maryland, North Carolina, and Ohio.

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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