State Suspends Bear Path Acres’ Permit—Will Federal License Be Next?

PETA Calls On U.S. Department of Agriculture to Terminate Notorious Roadside Zoo's Exhibitor License

For Immediate Release:
August 4, 2016

Contact:
David Perle 202-483-7382

Franklin, Va. – Following reports that Bear Path Acres in Franklin has shut its doors after Virginia officials suspended the roadside zoo’s state wildlife exhibition permit until 2021, PETA sent a letter this morning calling on the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to strip the facility of its federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA) license to exhibit animals.

In the letter, PETA asks the USDA to terminate the federal license on the grounds that Bear Path Acres cannot exhibit wildlife without violating state law. The facility is also reportedly being investigated by Virginia officials for allegedly transferring a bobcat and a serval to people who lacked the necessary permit, allowing wildlife to interact with a companion dog inside a private home, and allowing an unpermitted volunteer to handle wildlife, among other issues—all of which also may violate the AWA.

“Bear Path Acres’ permit suspension should be the final nail in its coffin,” says PETA Foundation Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Brittany Peet. “PETA is calling for this decrepit roadside zoo to transfer these animals to a reputable sanctuary where they’d be free to run, climb, swim, socialize, and receive the care that they need.”

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—has repeatedly observed animals at Bear Path Acres trapped in small muddy enclosures and virtually barren cages, pacing repeatedly or showing other symptoms of captivity-induced mental illness. The USDA also recently hit the facility with an official warning for violations of the AWA, including failure to provide animals with adequate shelter and veterinary care. Official warnings put exhibitors on notice that any further AWA violations may result in an administrative lawsuit, which can lead to fines and license suspension or revocation.

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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