U.S. Department of Agriculture Report Documents Severe Neglect, Animals Suffering Without Veterinary Care
Lilburn, Ga. – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has just released a new inspection report documenting a slew of fresh violations of the Animal Welfare Act at notorious roadside zoo Yellow River Game Ranch. According to the report, obviously ailing animals were allowed to suffer without any veterinary care, including a lame goat and sheep, a pig who could barely stand and one who had difficulty walking, a bobcat so underweight that his hipbones and spine were visible, and goats with hair loss and flaking skin.
Rabbits at the facility were found confined to stacked steel cages with very little bedding and scant protection from the elements, potentially placing their lives at risk. The bears’ antiquated concrete enclosure had not been cleaned for a long time and contained a buildup of hair, feces, and debris. Seventeen goats were inadequately provided with only two dog igloos for shelter, while pigs were found sinking in the deep mud in their enclosure and were also denied bedding despite winter conditions. Inspectors reported finding hazardous sharp edges of fencing and dangerous gaps in rusty enclosures.
“Yellow River Game Ranch’s latest citations for neglect and failure to provide basic veterinary care—and the description of such ramshackle enclosures—prove that it either can’t or won’t provide animals with even the most minimal care,” says PETA Foundation Deputy Director Brittany Peet. “PETA is calling on this facility to allow these animals to be retired to the safety of a reputable sanctuary immediately.”
This inspection report confirmed many of the ongoing veterinary issues that PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—has repeatedly reported to the USDA. In 2012, a whistleblower came forward with reports of rampant cruelty and neglect that closely mirror the USDA’s recent findings. In 2014, the roadside zoo was fined by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for allowing its employees to risk their lives by entering enclosures with bears.
More than 1,200 different kinds of animals imported to the U.S. between 2005 and 2014
Humane Society International
In the last ten years, American hunters have imported more than 1.2 million animals, more than 126,000 a year, as hunting trophies from across the world, according to a new report by Humane Society International and The Humane Society of the United States.
The report, Trophy Hunting by the Numbers: the United States’ Role in Global Trophy Hunting, uses original analysis of hunting trophy import data obtained from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Among its findings include:
Trophies are primarily imported from Canada and South Africa. They are followed by Namibia, Mexico, Zimbabwe, New Zealand, Tanzania, Argentina, Zambia and Botswana.
The species most favored by trophy hunters include: American black bears, impalas, common wildebeests, greater kudus, gemsboks, springboks and bonteboks.
Trophy hunters highly covet the African big five, importing them to the U.S. in staggering numbers between 2005 and 2014: 5,600 African lions, 4,600 African elephants, 4,500 African leopards, 330 southern white rhinos, and 17,200 African buffalo. All of these species, except the African buffalo, are near threatened or vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
The U.S. ports of entry importing the most wildlife trophies during the decade were: New York, New York; Pembina, North Dakota; Chicago, Illinois; Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas; and Portal, North Dakota.
Teresa M. Telecky, director of the wildlife department at HSI, said: “This report clearly shows the dire impact American trophy hunters are having on wildlife in other countries. It’s outrageous that every year hunters take the lives of thousands of animals, many threatened with extinction, just to win a prize and show off. These animals need protection, not to be mounted on a wall. The fact that rare, majestic species are entering the U.S. in large and small ports of entry should alarm lawmakers and the public concerned about trophy hunting.”
Competitive hunting groups promote these hunts, offering accolades and awards to its members. The largest such group, Safari Club International, just wrapped up its convention in Las Vegas where more than 300 mammal hunts for more than 600 animals were auctioned off, and countless other hunts arranged privately on the exhibit floor. SCI often uses these proceeds to fight wildlife protection measures. For certain species, including lions, elephants, leopards and rhinos, the U.S. is the largest trophy importing country.
As one way of preventing disastrous consequences of trophy hunting, HSI and The HSUS will continue to seek new protection under the U.S. Endangered Species Act for species that meet the criteria for listing. The African lion is the latest species to receive ESA protection after a multi-year effort by animal protection organizations, including HSI and The HSUS. The groups are also seeking increased ESA protections for species currently listed in a lower category of protection, as was recently done for the African elephant. HSI and The HSUS are also urging corporations – such as Swarovski Optik – to end sponsorship of trophy hunting advocacy organizations, as well as reaching out to more airlines and other transport companies to ban the transport of trophies.
The Humane Society of the United States applauds the Minneapolis City Council for voting unanimously to pass a measure prohibiting the use of bullhooks on elephants in circuses and traveling shows.
Christine Coughlin, Minnesota state director for The HSUS said: “For too long, elephants in traveling shows have suffered trauma and abuse from handlers wielding the sharp end of a bullhook. We commend the city council and Councilmember Cam Gordon, the amendment’s author, for taking action to protect these highly intelligent and social animals from inhumane and outdated training methods.”
Bullhooks, which resemble fireplace pokers, are used by trainers to strike, jab, prod, pull and hook sensitive spots on an elephant’s body. Elephants are hooked and hit with bullhooks when being trained and prior to performances to instill fear and, in turn, ensure that tricks or other desired behaviors will be performed on command. Bullhooks are also used to punish the animals when they fail to perform as instructed and to control elephants during routine handling. The measure was offered as an amendment by Council Member Cam Gordon (Ward 2) to the revision of the city’s animal ordinance and will go into effect January 1, 2019.
Council Member Gordon said: “Today Minneapolis joined nearly 50 other American cities that have passed laws protecting captive elephants. Bullhooks are cruel, and the public is clearly no longer willing to tolerate abuse or mistreatment of elephants, whether it happens in sight or behind the scenes. I hope other cities in Minnesota and beyond adopt similar protections for these intelligent and sensitive animals.”
What do you get when you combine one of the most talked-about Super Bowl ads with this weekend’s Westminster Kennel Club dog show? The answer is PETA’s “PuppyMonkeyBaby” parody video, in which the made-up PuggyMonkeyBaby’s breeder explains, Best in Show–style, how the commercial star was born. “It’s just lots of inbred pugs,” he says. “Because that’s the name of the game with dog breeding, you know. It’s really just inbreeding. Keepin’ it in the family.”
On its website, PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to abuse in any way”—points to the many health dangers associated with inbreeding dogs, including bulldogs, who often have to be artificially inseminated and give birth via cesarean section because their heads are too large and their hips are too small to give birth naturally. And Cavalier King Charles spaniels have been bred to have unnaturally shaped skulls, which can cause a condition called syringomyelia, in which brain tissue protrudes through the base of the too-small skull and causes intense pain for the dogs.
“PETA’s PuppyMonkeyBaby parody video points out that inbreeding dogs for exaggerated physical traits is just as grotesque as popping a monkey’s torso onto a baby’s legs,” says PETA Vice President Joel Bartlett. “While PuppyMonkeyBaby is a brilliant computer-generated creation for which no animals were harmed, real-life inbred pugs suffer from skin conditions, bone disease, and seizures just to satisfy purebred fanatics.”
Video of PETA supporters rushing the floor to protest the Westminster dog show in years past can be seen here.
More information about PETA’s opposition to the Westminster Kennel Club dog show is available here. PETA will be protesting again this year.
Zoos claim to educate people and preserve species, but they usually fall short on both counts.
Most zoo enclosures are very small, and rather than promoting respect or understanding of animals, signs often provide little more information than an animal’s species, diet, and natural range.
Animals’ normal behavior is seldom discussed, much less observed, because their natural needs are rarely met. Birds’ wings may be clipped so that they cannot fly, aquatic animals are often without adequate water, and many animals who live in large herds or family groups in nature are kept alone or, at most, in pairs. Natural hunting and mating behaviors are virtually eliminated by regulated feeding and breeding regimens. Animals are closely confined, lack privacy, and have little opportunity for mental stimulation or physical exercise. These conditions often result in abnormal and self-destructive behaviors or “zoochosis.”