Waccatee Zoo Under Fire After Solitary Chimpanzee’s Death

PETA Urges Federal Authorities to Hold Roadside Zoo Accountable for Any Violations of Animal-Welfare Law, Endangered Species Act

For Immediate Release:
November 23, 2015

David Perle 202-483-7382

Myrtle Beach, S.C. – For nearly 30 years, Chico the chimpanzee was kept in isolation at the Waccatee Zoo in Myrtle Beach, where he had never so much as seen another chimpanzee since he was taken from his mother as an infant. His years of seclusion ended suddenly with his death on November 3—and this morning, PETA sent an urgent letter calling on the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to investigate Chico’s death and hold the Waccatee Zoo accountable for any violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA) it may have committed.

PETA is especially concerned that Chico may never have been screened for heart disease—an extremely common ailment in captive male chimpanzees and reportedly the cause of his death—and is also asking the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to investigate the zoo for violations of the Endangered Species Act.

“PETA repeatedly offered to move Chico to an accredited sanctuary where he would have had the essential companionship of other chimpanzees and appropriate veterinary care that might have saved his life,” says PETA Foundation Deputy Director Brittany Peet. “It’s up to the authorities to hold the Waccatee Zoo responsible for any federal laws it may have broken, and it’s up to kind people to stay far away from this hellhole.”

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—has been monitoring the Waccatee Zoo for years. In recent months, the group alerted the USDA to numerous apparent AWA violations at the facility, including bears with extensive hair loss confined to filthy concrete enclosures, primates who were pulling out their hair and circling tiny cages in apparent psychological distress, and a severely overweight cougar who was in apparent need of veterinary attention.

PETA’s letters to the USDA and the FWS are available upon request. For more information, please visit PETA.org.

For Media: Contact PETA's
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