Sonny Perdue Sued by PETA Over Lazy 5 Ranch’s License Renewal

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

For Immediate Release:
May 15, 2018

David Perle 202-483-7382

Mooresville, N.C. – 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 knew that the applicants—such as notorious animal exhibitor Henry Hampton, who operates two facilities, including Lazy 5 Ranch in Mooresville—were 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 is illegal. However, just 10 days after Hampton’s license was renewed, the USDA cited Lazy 5 for failing to supply adequate veterinary care to a giraffe with overgrown and misshapen hooves as well as a lamb with an abnormal head and neck posture, an eye that was continually closed, and diarrhea on his or her back legs.

“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 are 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 deny sick animals critical veterinary care and leave them to suffer without help.”

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—notes that Hampton’s Lazy 5 Ranch was cited for five violations of the AWA in the past year alone, including for failing to provide animals with adequate veterinary care. Hampton has also been cited for years for allowing dangerous unsupervised public contact with animals and authorizing the use of a tranquilizing drug that has no pain-relieving properties and can cause distress, paralyze respiratory muscles, and impede animals’ breathing, causing them to die of suffocation while fully conscious but immobilized.

In the past, Lazy 5 Ranch has been cited for failing to supply adequate veterinary care to a pregnant camel who appeared to have difficulty breathing; a llama with a discolored eye; a camel with a swollen udder who’d recently given birth; and a sheep with an obvious limp.

Other facilities implicated in PETA’s lawsuit include Hampton’s other roadside zoo in Ohio as well as operations in Arizona, Colorado, Maryland, and Texas.

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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