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May 1, 2012

USDA Files Charges Against Mississippi Roadside Zoo

Action Follows Investigation, Legal Complaint and Rescue of Animals by The Humane Society of the United States

The Humane Society of the United States applauds a decision by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to file charges against the owner of Collins Zoo in Collins, Miss., for repeated and willful violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act. The HSUS is urging USDA to revoke the facility’s exhibitor license immediately.

The charges come after The HSUS conducted an undercover investigation at Collins Zoo and then filed detailed legal complaints with the USDA and other state and federal officials documenting serious animal welfare problems. In January, the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks seized 11 exotic animals from the facility due to violations of state requirements for possessing inherently dangerous animals.

“The animals at the Collins Zoo have suffered in inhumane and illegal conditions long enough,” said Lydia Sattler, Mississippi state director for The HSUS. “The Humane Society of the United States commends federal and state officials for taking action in this case, and urges the U.S. Department of Agriculture to pursue aggressive enforcement actions against this unaccredited, poorly run facility.”

The violations alleged in USDA’s complaint include:

•    Failure to have a sufficient number of adequately trained employees
•    Failure to provide adequate veterinary care
•    Failure to maintain sufficient safety barriers between the animals and the public
•    Failure to maintain structurally sound enclosures
•    Inadequate perimeter fencing
•    Failure to provide animals with wholesome and uncontaminated food
•    Filthy enclosures
•    Unsanitary food receptacles
•    Failure to store food and bedding in a manner to prevent deterioration
•    Failure to provide shelter from the elements
•    Failure to provide minimum space
•    Inadequate drainage
•    Failure to maintain records of acquisition and disposition

The animals seized from the facility include tigers, cougars, leopards, wolf hybrids, and a Macaque monkey. Since January, they have been receiving care at a number of animal sanctuaries, including the Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch, which is owned and operated by The HSUS and the Fund for Animals, as well as Carolina Tiger Rescue, Wildlife Rescue & Rehabilitation and Born Free USA Primate Sanctuary.

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Media Contact: Stephanie Twining, 301-258-1491, stwining@humanesociety.org

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