‘Worst Roadside Zoo’ Slapped With Notice of Intent to Sue

PETA Alleges That Waccatee Zoo Violates Endangered Species Act

For Immediate Release:
December 22, 2021

David Perle 202-483-7382

Myrtle Beach, S.C. – Joined by two members of the public who have visited what PETA calls the “Worst Roadside Zoo in America,” the animal rights group has just sent an official notice to local outfit Waccatee Zoo, warning of its intent to sue under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA). Alleging that the facility mistreats lions, ring-tailed lemurs, and other ESA-protected animals, the notice offers Waccatee an opportunity to avoid the suit if it allows PETA to arrange the placement of ESA-protected animals at reputable facilities. The ESA requires plaintiffs to inform potential defendants at least 60 days prior to legal action.

Among other allegations listed in the 35-page notice, the plaintiffs argue the following:

  • Inadequate veterinary care for Lila the tiger, among other failings, led to the endangered tiger’s death at the facility earlier this year. She had spent months wasting away, losing fur, and pacing in her cramped cage.
  • Endangered parrots are confined to cramped, unsanitary cages where they can barely expand their wings fully, let alone fly. Parrots at Waccatee appear to exhibit abnormal feather-plucking behavior, indicating psychological distress likely caused by solitary confinement and environmental deprivation.
  • Visitors regularly observe the lions at the facility, Princess and Simba, pacing back and forth in small and unsanitary cages. They live in solitary confinement, even though lions are highly social animals.

“If Waccatee won’t get these suffering animals the care that they deserve, it can expect legal action,” says PETA Foundation Deputy General Counsel for Captive Animal Law Enforcement Brittany Peet. “PETA stands ready to help these animals find spacious homes and competent caretakers, before any others die as Lila did.”

PETA notes that Waccatee has a history of federal Animal Welfare Act citations dating back at least two decades for violations that include failing to provide animals with adequate veterinary care and keeping bears and cougars in enclosures lacking adequate space. In May, a federal inspection report revealed that Waccatee received several citations after it had left two limping sheep without veterinary care, failed to provide animals with clean water, and neglected safety protocols, leading to the escape of a capuchin monkey during the inspection.

In addition to PETA Foundation counsel, the plaintiffs are also represented by Jonathan Brightbill, Kyllan Gilmore, and Sharon Lin with Winston & Strawn, LLP.

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. For more information on PETA’s investigative newsgathering and reporting, please visit PETA.org or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

For Media: Contact PETA's
Media Response Team.


Get PETA Updates

Stay up to date on the latest vegan trends and get breaking animal rights news delivered straight to your inbox!

By submitting this form, you are agreeing to our collection, storage, use, and disclosure of your personal info in accordance with our privacy policy as well as to receiving e-mails from us.

 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