Animal Writes
24 February 1999 Issue

Don't Stop the Car!

You've been on the road for hours when you see the sign: "Wild animals!
Visit our zoo today!" Curious, perhaps anxious to see if any of the animals are
in trouble, you follow the directions, dig into your pocket for some cash and
wander in. This is how most people stumble across roadside zoos. Often, what
they find is neither wild nor exotic. It's filthy and heartbreaking.

Bears crammed into cages too narrow to lie down in. Monkeys gone mad from
years of confinement. Once-colorful parrots who have pulled out their feathers
from boredom.

Roadside zoos are the bottom of the heap in the zoo world. The goal is to make
a buck with little effort. Owners don't have to worry about offending visitors
because most are just passing through and will never return. So the comfort of
the animals is of no importance to them.

In the U.S., just 74 U.S. Department of Agriculture inspectors are charged with
overseeing more than 3,000 animal exhibitors. Inspections occur once a year
or less, and current laws are pitifully inadequate, mandating only minimal
standards of husbandry. It is perfectly legal, for example, to keep a chimpan-
zee isolated in a cage measuring just 8 feet by 6 feet by 6 feet for his or her
entire life.

As the following cases from PETA's active files show, change can be slow in

ANIMAL TIMES Readers Write:
...the baby bear was in a cage all alone with no food or water...
...the zebra was all alone lying in muddy waste...
...household trash, debris and filth are everywhere...
...sheep, miniature horses, donkeys and a cow tied by short ropes...
...two Bengal tigers in a cage made of chicken wire, not even big enough
to stand in... does this place stay in business?...

Tote-Em-In Zoo
Spend 24 hours locked in a phone booth and you get a taste of what the
animals endure at this North Carolina facility. "Over 100 exotic animals in a
Dr. Doolittle atmosphere," it boasts. Yet the animals are stuffed into cages and
crates barely larger than the animals themselves. Visitors describe filthy,
waste-covered enclosures, some without water or protection from the elements.
"The monkeys were sitting in their own excrement in small cages," wrote one
distraught visitor. Another described a baboon who, driven to madness by his
barren confinement, paced back and forth across his small pen.

PETA has filed numerous complaints with the USDA. The agency's reports
reflect the zoo's problems. "...the bobcat's enclosure has two 3-inch long nail
ends protruding from the climbing limbs." "...a mandrill displayed abnormal
behavior by sucking on forearm and biting left foot."

Noell's Ark Chimp Farm
"If you want to know what The Chimp Farm is like," wrote Toronto Sun colum-
nist Liz Langley, "picture a mental hospital in Victorian England" complete with
"blood-curdling, panick[ed], relentless screams." PETA receives more com-
plaints about this decades-old Florida facility than any other zoo. Calling itself
a sanctuary for "retired" animals, the farm has actually bred 58 chimps, five
orangutans and "an unknown number" of monkeys. Most have remained
imprisoned there; a few have been sold to researchers and circuses.

Many of the animals rage against their confinement, rattling the bars and
shrieking. Others have given up and languish in their cages, rocking cease-
lessly back and forth. For years, one graying chimp called Konga wore a
metal collar, a remnant of the days when Noell's Ark founders offered him up
to paying customers for "wrestling."

PETA and local activists have repeatedly filed complaints with the officials.
Over the years, The Chimp Farm has lost its license temporarily and has been
fined for violations. USDA officials say the problems "are longstanding and
complex and derive at least partly from the fact that most of the facility was
constructed over 30 years ago..." And yet, The Chimp Farm is allowed to
remain open.

Change will come for these animals when travelers know better than to support
roadside zoos. Without customers, these zoos will finally close forever.

Help Free Candi!
For more than three decades, Candi has been caged alone in a Baton Rouge,
La., amusement park. Candi was originally used in Fun Fair Park's show,
which featured chimps riding a motorcycle. When the show closed, Candi
was confined to a tiny cage next to the bumper cars. There the lonely ape
stared into space, rocked back and forth or curled up in a fetal position on the

In 1989, under pressure from local activists and internationally known primate
expert Jane Goodall, Candi's "owner," Sam Haynes, built a larger cage with
perches and a tire swing. It's better but still not good enough. See below for
how you can help Candi.

Debbie Leahy was haunted by the animals at the Land o' Lorin "sanctuary" in
Illinois. So she rolled up her sleeves and got to work, documenting the sad
conditions and filing reports with the USDA, even contacting individual inspec-
tors to plead her case. She wrote letters to newspapers, lobbied officials,
organized protests and contacted real sanctuaries for advice.

Debbie's efforts paid off. This year, the zoo closed and the animals were placed
in real sanctuaries.


* Never, ever visit a roadside zoo.

* Complain about Tote-Em-In Zoo to Mr. Tony Majure, Wilmington Chamber
of Commerce, 1 Estell Lee Place, Wilmington NC 28401.

* Help Candi by writing to Sam Haynes, 18142 Perkins Rd., Baton Rouge,
LA 70810, and ask him to release Candi to one of the sanctuaries that have
offered to give her a real home.

For more information on what you can do to help animals, contact:

PeTA Headquarters
501 Front St.
Norfolk VA 23510
Email: [email protected]

Go on to Common Poisonous Houseplants
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