Roadside Zoos Maintain Animals in Excessive Climate


Roadside zoos tend to operate on a tight budget, and operators often lack the knowledge, resources, and desire to provide quality care. Often times, the animals they keep are malnourished, unable to move around and socialize, and lack adequate veterinary care, environmental enrichment, and mental stimulation. Due to the location of the facility and the species imprisoned there, extreme weather can cause serious problems.

Animals suffer and can die due to improper protection from extreme weather

Fur and feathers do not adequately protect animals from heat stroke, sunburn, hypothermia, frostbite and death.

Tropical animals such as capuchin monkeys, coatimundis, giraffes, iguanas, and macaws are forced to tremble through brutal winters in the Midwest without adequate protection. And species like reindeer, snow leopard, Canadian lynx and arctic fox and wolves that thrive in cold weather can endure stifling heat in the dry southwest or on the damp east coast without cooling off.

Laws do not protect animals from suffering

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) enforces the Federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA), which requires minimal safety precautions, including adequate shade, protection from the elements, and adequate indoor ventilation. However, these regulations are so petty that animals often become seriously ill or die before inspectors can cite facilities for violations, and enforcement is weak. The consequences of a quote are so minor that the perpetrators are not motivated to make significant changes to improve animal welfare. Animal exhibitors are rarely fined for violations, and when they do they often see it as just a business expense.

Although reptiles and birds are often kept by the roadside in zoos, the AWA does not offer them any protection. These animals are very sensitive to temperature and humidity. Reptiles rely on their surroundings to regulate their temperature and, just like us, can get too hot and too cold. If they are not at the optimal temperature, their metabolism will not work well.

Many roadside zoos have received tremendous quotes about extreme weather

Windswept ranch in California

In 2020, a witness sent PETA video footage of reindeer panting in a water trough and huddled in a small strip of shade to escape the heat at Windswept Ranch. The roadside zoo is located just outside of Mojave, California, where summer temperatures can reach the low 100s. PETA filed a USDA complaint because the reindeer believed to live in the arctic tundra are not receiving adequate cooling measures and shade.

These reindeer gasp and put their hooves in the water, probably to cool off.

Unless exploited for Christmas events, reindeer have to live in zoos, farms, and roadside rental establishments – where they are often neglected and lack adequate veterinary care.

– PETA (@peta) December 23, 2020

The Arizona Camel Farm (DEFUNCT)

The USDA finally revoked its license to this deplorable roadside zoo in August 2020 after the animals had not received veterinary care for seven years. The camel farm was located in Yuma, Arizona, where temperatures rise to over 100 degrees for most of the year. It has been repeatedly stated that the animals did not have enough shade and suffered from extreme weather.

extreme climate

extreme climate

Waccatee Zoo in South Carolina

Waccatee Zoo is known for neglecting an almost bald tiger named Lila. He was cited for failing to vet a macaque after being seen licking its bare, red, frozen tail. A year earlier, the roadside dump was cited because it did not provide adequate shelter for several animals when temperatures fell below 20 degrees. The “shelters” provided were only three sides to allow wind to penetrate, and some did not even have sheets for insulation. Others were in the style of a dog house with no flaps over the door to keep the animals warm in extreme weather.

Extreme climate

Lazy 5 Ranch in North Carolina

The USDA issued a critical quote to Lazy 5 Ranch for failing to provide adequate acclimatization times or protection to five waterbucks – African antelopes – who died from the cold. The roadside zoo only offered a roofed, three-sided shelter and wasn’t even big enough to hold all the animals.

The USDA also cited this facility because there were no cooling mechanisms in an inner case that contained a ring-tailed lemur, although the temperature on that day was expected to be close to 100 degrees.

Ring-tailed lemurs in the heat

Lazy 5 Ranch was cited twice in a year for failing to shear 14 sheep that had heavy fleece in scorching heat. Some of them lay on their sides panting in extreme distress.

extreme climate

Wild Wilderness Drive-Through Safari in Arkansas

Wild Wilderness was cited twice in a month because 25 monkeys, more than half of which suffered from frostbite, had not received adequate protection and / or veterinary care. Three baboons only had a small, unheated metal guard 2 by 3 feet to escape the extreme weather that winter, and 12 baboons and nine macaques only had an unheated concrete room where groups huddled together in sub-zero temperatures. All 15 baboons had shortened tails and the spider monkey’s hands and feet were missing tissue, exposing the bone on several fingers and toes.

These quotes were part of a USDA lawsuit against Wild Wilderness alleging 90 violations of the AWA that resulted in a $ 75,000 fine and a 60-day license suspension. Wild Wilderness received eight more quotes for failing to protect 2001 animals from extreme heat and cold, including bears, rabbits, baboons, macaques, baby lions, and warthogs.

Warthog without protection

Bailiwick Ranch in New York

Bailiwick Ranch was quoted by the USDA after a fox apparently died of frostbite. The roadside zoo had not given him veterinary care, even after a staff member noticed his condition and brought him inside. Several animals in the facility did not have adequate protection from the cold weather.

Eric Mogensen (Virginia Safari Park and Reston Zoo) in Virginia

In 2002, the USDA cited Virginia Safari Park for failing to provide ventilation and cooling for three spider monkeys in 95-degree weather. Ten years later, Jethro, a spider monkey, got frostbite after suffering from freezing temperatures for four days at the Reston Zoo. He was then taken to Virginia Safari Park, where he was denied medical care for weeks even though he had visible lesions on his hands and feet. Jethro had to be put to sleep because of the severity of his injuries.

Extreme climate

A few years later, a crested African porcupine named Mr. Quills was moved to an outdoor enclosure at Reston Zoo that did not provide adequate shelter for over four hours in subzero temperatures. He died later that day. Street Zoos CEO Eric Mogensen was fined $ 99,999 civilly by the USDA for the deaths of Jethro and Mr. Quills, as well as many other serious violations of the AWA.

Barry A. Kirshner Conservation Area in California

The USDA quoted Roberta Kirshner for taking no action to prevent overheating and discomfort for the animals when the temperature hit 106 degrees on the day of the inspection. An infrared thermometer showed a deck surface temperature of about 127 degrees. According to the inspector, many cats were panting and some looked uncomfortably hot and sluggish.

The USDA fined Kirshner $ 5,464 for this and several other AWA violations. Their rundown facility is home to many cold-weather species – including Amur leopards, snow leopards, and wolves – in California, where summer temperatures last until the mid-1990s. PETA recently got footage of Royal, the Amur leopard who is panting heavily.

How to spot and avoid roadside zoos

Whenever animals are exploited – be it for experimentation, food, clothing, or entertainment – their needs are secondary. Never go to a zoo or roadside park, or trust any facility based on their name. It doesn’t matter whether the title includes “Conservation”, “Sanctuary”, “Wildlife Park”, “Conservation Area” or “Refuge” – institutions can call themselves what they want and try to deceive the public. True sanctuaries do not exploit animals for money.

Street zoos are not accredited, so the standard of care is lower. Accredited zoos and sanctuaries provide all animals there with temperature-controlled enclosures and accommodations. Accreditation for zoos is done by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, and accreditation for protected areas is done by the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries (GFAS). GFAS sets strict standards for animal care. GFAS accredited sanctuaries never breed animals or use them for encounters or performances – they are designed to provide sanctuary and lifelong care for animals.

The imprisonment of living things for human entertainment is speciesist and must stop. We will not back down until every roadside zoo is closed and all animal sacrifices are taken to accredited facilities where they can have the appearance of a peaceful life.

Take action to help animals in roadside zoos

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