Wilson’s Wild Animal Park’s License Challenged in USDA Lawsuit

PETA Tackles Rubber-Stamping of Roadside Zoo’s License Renewal Application Despite Slew of Federal Animal Welfare Act Violations

For Immediate Release:
August 27, 2018

David Perle 202-483-7382

Winchester, Va.

This morning, PETA amended its lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)—which challenges the agency’s automatic renewal of federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA) licenses even when it knew that the applicants were in violation of the act—to include Wilson’s Wild Animal Park in Winchester.

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 licensing practices so that facilities with a history of noncompliance aren’t handed renewals year after year, which is illegal. However, the agency has continued to renew Wilson’s license despite over a decade of consistent AWA violations. The facility has incurred 14 citations since July of last year alone, including for confining bears and tigers to inappropriately small enclosures.

“PETA is calling on the USDA to stop violating the law by signing off on repeat offenders’ license renewals,” says PETA Foundation Vice President of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Delcianna Winders. “The government shouldn’t hand out licenses to facilities that display animals in miniscule, barren enclosures.”

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—notes that two Asian black bears at Wilson’s are confined to tiny enclosures with concrete floors that prevent the animals from engaging in natural types of behavior such as digging. Wilson’s has also been repeatedly cited for failing to provide three tigers with an enclosure in which they could jump, run, and swim, which are essential to their well-being. Other repeat citations include for having only a single employee to care for all of the approximately 175 animals at the facility.

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

For more information, please visit PETA.org.

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