The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) has released a report of its months-long undercover investigation of two roadside zoo, which has found shocking abuse and neglect of exotic animals that were kept for profit.
Revealed on Thursday, HSUS’ report focuses on what they call the persistent mistreatment of four tiger cubs and the neglect that led to the death of a 24-year-old giraffe after she had given birth to twins.
HSUS conducted the investigations at the Tiger Safari in Oklahoma and the Natural Bridge Zoo in Virginia. It found that tiger cubs were punched and hit from as early as three-weeks old to condition the cats for paying customers to have their pictures taken with them.
HSUS’ investigation has also uncovered a critical lack of veterinary care, as well as crowded conditions and filthy cages. The undercover HSUS members embedded themselves as staff at the two zoos and say they witnessed the deaths of animals through willful mismanagement.
1. According to the Humane Society of the United States this 24-year-old giraffe passed away a year after giving birth to twins — which the animal apparently never recovered from.
2. The giraffe’s death was just one example of cruelty alleged at the two zoos. Another witnessed was a spider monkey with a bone-deep hand wound — that apparently was not treated for weeks.
3. The financial incentives for the two roadside zoo’s owners are great. They can charge anywhere from $50 to $1,000 for a photo shoot with a tiger cub.
Among the dead animals were a baby camel who accidentally hung herself through neglect, sick guinea pigs killed by slamming them into the ground and a Capuchin monkey who mistakenly ate rat poison and died.
The undercover HSUS staff also found a lone elephant who is locked away in a dark barn when she isn’t used for giving rides to the public and a spider monkey with a bone-deep hand wound.
Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the Humane Society, has called for the U.S. Department of Agriculture to revoke both zoos’ licenses and for the states of Virginia and Oklahoma to press cruelty to animal charges.
Both investigations cataloged how each of the two zoos ran a profitable business from the use of tiger cubs for photo shoots with the public. The fees varied between $50 to $1,000 per session.
In a written response to the Associated Press, Karl Mogensen, owner of Natural Bridge Zoo, called the allegations “slanderous” and “vicious propaganda” aimed at soliciting donations. Mr. Mogensen has denied the accusations.
Tiger Safari has not yet responded to the allegations.
The video above, recorded in secret by the HSUS staff embedded in the zoos, shows the tiger cubs squealing in distress during the photo shoots and evidently being hit, punched, slapped and choked as discipline for misbehaving. The Humane Society also alleges that four cubs were taken away from their mothers, just after being born and were hand-raised instead.
4. In footage shot secretly and supplied by the Humane Society a white tiger cub called Maximilian appears to be pulled along the ground against its will.
5. The Tiger Safari in Oklahoma and the Natural Bridge Zoo in Virginia had employees with the Humane Society secretly join their staff for months last year.
6. In this clip a woman is heard to call the tiger cub a ‘b****’ for biting her and then what follows appears to be a slap.
The investigation also claims that in some instances that Tiger Safari and Natural Bridge Zoo put the cubs up for public handling when they were only three or four weeks old and that the public were thus exposed to potentially dangerous illnesses.
According to HSUS, a group based in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, called T.I.G.E.R.S, is behind the two zoos. It is run by Kevin Antle, who, according to the HSUS, is known as a kingpin of the exotic animal trading world. According to the HSUS:
Antle gives and takes cubs from both Natural Bridge Zoo and Tiger Safari. We don’t know if any money changes hands — it’s a secretive business and, unbelievably, these animals are bred indiscriminately all over the country and not tracked by any one agency for their lifetimes.
Ron Kagan, executive director and CEO of the Detroit Zoological Society told the HSUS:
It appears that both operations are typical roadside zoos with amateur, reckless and harsh captive conditions and treatment.
The physical discipline and examples of deprivation are clear as is the fact that the public is being put at risk by coming into contact with an animal capable of biting, clawing and spreading parasites.
Watch the video above for more.
7. Another white tiger cub is hit on the nose while inside a small cage by one of his handlers.
8. This family have a picture taken with an elephant at one of the two facilities: The Humane Society allege that one of the elephants at the two roadside zoos are locked away in a dark room after entertaining the public.
9. This elephant is charged with giving rides to children around one of the grounds where mistreatment is alleged.
10. Allegedly one Capuchin monkey ate rat poison at one of the two facilities and later died.
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