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Zoos are a fact of life. They have a responsibility to give every animal humane, professional care. Some strive to meet this standard, keeping animals in displays resembling their natural habitats as closely as possible. Others fail miserably, betraying the animals and the public. How’s your zoo?


The vast majority of animal exhibitors licensed by the federal government do not meet industry accreditation standards. Thousands of animals suffer in roadside zoos and menageries.

Inhumane conditions teach children the wrong message, seeming to condone indifference. Zoos should educate about how animals live in the wild, and help preserve them there.

Zoos owe animals lifetime care. If they cannot provide proper care they should relocate animals to appropriate facilities—never into the exotic pet trade.

Because public opinion and spending are important to zoos’ success, you can be a powerful force in improving the treatment of animals in zoos.


  • A young macaque in a barren cage at Catoctin Zoo in Thurmont, Md. Debbie Leahy/The HSUS

Maryland's Fatal Attractions

A new report details dangerous and inhumane conditions at three roadside zoos in Maryland, where experts uncovered filthy conditions and an extreme lack of basic animal care. Learn more on Wayne's blog

Read the full report

News & Events

  • January 17, 2014

    Animal Protection Groups Ask California Court to Uphold Exotic Pet Law

    A roadside zoo big cat breeder in California is seeking to weaken that state’s exotic pet law, which protects public safety and animal welfare. California’s is one of the oldest such laws, requiring permits and inspections for facilities exhibiting dangerous wild animals.

  • December 4, 2013

    New Report Reveals Inhumane and Unsafe Conditions at Maryland’s Roadside Zoos

    “Maryland’s Fatal Attractions,” a report detailing inhumane and unsafe conditions at Maryland’s roadside zoos, uncovered an extreme lack of basic care and filthy conditions at facilities housing dangerous animals such as big cats, bears and primates. The Humane Society of the United States commissioned two experts—Mel Richardson, DVM, and Richard Farinato—representing more than 80 years of collective experience with captive animals to visit and evaluate three roadside zoos in Maryland: Catoctin Zoo in Thurmont, Plumpton Park Zoo in Rising Sun and Tri-State Zoo in Cumberland.

  • October 23, 2013

    Los Angeles City Council Bans Abusive Elephant Training Devices

    The Los Angeles City Council passed a motion directing the city attorney to draft an ordinance to prohibit the use of bullhooks and other tools to inflict pain for the purpose of training and controlling the behavior of elephants used in circuses and traveling shows to take effect in three years.

  • Tiger

    October 5, 2013

    Tiger Mauls Employee at G.W. Exotic Animal Park; Swift Action Urged

    Cynthia Armstrong, Oklahoma state director of The Humane Society of the United States, released a statement in response to a female employee at the G.W. Exotic Animal Park in Wynnewood, Okla. being mauled by an adult tiger

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