Turtle Back Zoo Implicated in PETA’s Lawsuit Filed Today Against USDA

Group Contends Government Has Failed to Enforce Animal Welfare Act, Leaving Birds in Roadside Zoos Unprotected

For Immediate Release:
June 27, 2013

David Perle 202-483-7382

West Orange, N.J. — PETA has filed a lawsuit today in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia against the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for its failure to protect birds covered by the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA), including those at West Orange’s Turtle Back Zoo. Although birds used by exhibitors such as Turtle Back Zoo have been covered by the AWA since 2002, the USDA—which is charged with enforcing the statute—has unequivocally stated that “birds are not being regulated by Animal Care” and has taken no action in response to complaints regarding exhibited birds found suffering from injuries and illness, filthy enclosures, and contaminated water, among other violations.

In the case of the Turtle Back Zoo, PETA investigated and, on July 1, 2010, wrote to the USDA regarding the more than 500 budgerigars (parakeets) who had died in the span of approximately two years from starvation or parasites and a penguin who died after being featherless for two years, among other incidents. The USDA’s July 20 and 21, 2010, responses to each bird-related allegation mentioned in PETA’s complaint stated, “Not under our jurisdiction. (Non Regulated Species).”

“The USDA has waved aside egregious neglect of and cruelty to birds, even though the agency has a legal mandate to protect these animals under the federal Animal Welfare Act,” says PETA Foundation Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Delcianna Winders. “This regulatory failure is one reason why PETA urges everyone to stay away from roadside zoos, where animals are subject to abuse and neglect.”

Other facilities implicated in PETA’s lawsuit include roadside zoos in Florida, Hawaii, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.

For more information, please visit PETA.org.


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Media Response Team.


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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