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February 6, 2014

USDA Should Revoke Federal License of Nation’s Largest Big Cat Breeder

For several years, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has had an open investigation regarding big cat breeder and exhibitor Joe Schreibvogel of the Garold Wayne Interactive Zoological Park, formerly GW Exotic Animal Park in Wynnewood, Okla. for violations of the Animal Welfare Act. Animal protection organizations have asked the USDA to permanently revoke Schreibvogel’s exhibitor license.

The Humane Society of the United States, The Fund for Animals, International Fund for Animal Welfare, Born Free USA and Big Cat Rescue filed the legal petition.

Nicole Paquette, vice president of wildlife protection for The HSUS said: “Schreibvogel is a textbook example of an unqualified and unprofessional individual who should not be allowed to publicly exhibit dangerous wild animals. This one operation causes an enormous burden on federal agencies by routinely breeding and supplying dangerous wildlife species to other roadside zoos across the country and revoking his license would directly benefit animal welfare, public safety and conservation efforts.”

This petition provides more evidence of inadequate veterinary care and animal handling at Schreibvogel’s roadside zoo. The evidence presented in the petition for license revocation includes:

  • Failure to provide adequate veterinary care to a lion and a tiger. Schreibvogel is seen here stitching a large, deep wound on a lioness, claiming that he had already stitched the same wound “several times in the past couple days.” The video also depicts a tiger named Gabriel who was allegedly bit by a rattlesnake and is in obvious distress. Schreibvogel and others drag the tiger into his den, force him to drink from a hose, at one point causing him to vomit. When Gabriel is found dead the next morning, the staff struggles to remove him from the den due to the severity of rigor mortis. 
  • Failure to provide adequate care to two three-day-old tiger cubs who died shortly after being transported out of state in May 2013.
  • Certificates of Veterinary Inspection that illustrate the extent of Schreibvogel’s involvement in the exotic animal trade. Between Feb. 19, 2011, and Sept. 5, 2013, Schreibvogel moved at least 51 tigers, seven lions, two leopards, five bears and two monkeys out of Oklahoma. In 2013 alone, he disposed of at least 21 tiger cubs, including four cubs who were only three-days-old at the time of transport. These animals went to multiple other substandard exhibitors in more than a dozen states.
  • Failure to properly train employees, resulting in the October 2013 mauling of a keeper who put her arm into a tiger cage.
  • Schreibvogel irresponsibly taking in additional animals and breeding long-lived species despite being unable to even pay the zoo’s utility bills.

The HSUS previously conducted an undercover investigation of Schreibvogel’s facility and filed legal complaints with multiple state and federal agencies. The aforementioned organizations have also formally requested that USDA amend its animal handling regulations in order to prohibit public contact with big cats, bears and nonhuman primates, because the current policy endangers the public and encourages the overbreeding of dangerous captive wildlife to ensure a constant supply of young animals for photo-ops and commercial activity.

Media Contact: Naseem Amini, 301-548-7793, namini@humanesociety.org

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