SAEN Letter to USDA Requesting Revocation of Topeka Zoo's Accreditation
Captive Wildlife Advocacy

Stop Animal Exploitation NOW!
S. A. E. N.
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SAEN Letter to USDA Requesting Revocation of Topeka Zoo's Accreditation


June 21, 2010
From: Stop Animal Exploitation Now! (SAEN)
Donald W. Elroy
Director of Captive Wildlife Advocacy
(865) 286-9082
Jetsonboy1@charter.net

By e-mail to: Dr. Robert M. Gibbens
Director Western Region
USDA/APHIS/AC
2150 Centre Ave.
Building B, Mailstop 3W11
Fort Collins, CO 80526-8117
Robert.M.Gibbens@usda.gov

Cc: Dr. Chester A. Gipson
Administrator
USDA/APHIS/AC
4700 River Road, Unit 84
Riverdale, MD 20737-1234
Chester.A.Gipson@usda.gov

Dr. Gibbens,

This is a formal complaint concerning:
Topeka Zoo/ City of Topeka
Certificate # 48-C-0003
635 S W Gage Blvd.
Topeka, KS. 66606

Inspection reports on the Topeka Zoo provide evidence of recurring (repeat NCI) violations and negligence on the part of the zoo staff showing them responsible in the deaths of 12 animals at this facility in 2009 and early 2010. Violations occurring under veterinary regulations, handling regulations, housing facilities, environmental enhancement, facilities general, employees, sanitation, separation of animals, cleaning, sanitizing and housekeeping, feeding among others are collecting and adding up to major violations of the AWA, regulations, standards and policies. A declawed bobcat was also noted in recent news coverage along with break-ins to the facility. While the bobcat was loose the facility remained open, allowing public visits.

Notable in inspections were:

A hippopotamus at this zoo was literally boiled to death. A pallas cat died from “Maggot infestation” and associated toxemia, a rabbit also died with maggot infestation, a pronghorn was found dead in the enclosure, a chevrotain was placed in a crate – ignored and later found dead, three flying foxes died after being attacked by an alligator, a leopard died after being treated with expired drugs for nine days, a tamandu died after becoming severely emaciated and a lion cub died from an acute hemorrhage due to a fall.

In 2010 another Chevrotain has now died following 4 tuberculosis tests while being prepared for transfer to the Bronx Zoo in New York. The city statement on the cause of death for this Chevrotain highlights that it "appears to be lung disease secondary to anesthesia and capture myopathy.” This Chevrotain was functioning on only one operational lung and still was subjected to these procedures.

All of these items suggest that the Topeka Zoo has not taken seriously the law, regulations standards and policies that govern this facility or the animals in their care. The repeat NCI violations suggest that this facility understood the need for compliance, yet continued in the same manner as they previously had done. The animals that died in these cases were not old, infirm animals nor were they sick or diseased previous to their residing at the Topeka Zoo. We understand that the zoo has a new director and many new staff after these situations were brought to light, yet violations are continuing to occur at this facility to present day. This is a totally unacceptable situation for the animals’ safety. No animal should be subjected to the conditions brought to light on this facility. It is understood by us that USDA has launched an investigation into this licensee, but we believe further action is necessary to alleviate the suffering of these animals, provide for their welfare and the safety of the public.

S.A.E.N. requests immediate suspension of the exhibitor license# 48-C-0003 for the Topeka Zoo, allowing the zoo to devote the time and care necessary to provide for the animals’ welfare and to put in place a structure and chain of command that will correct these unacceptable conditions. By temporarily suspending the license the zoo will not be dealing with public concerns until they have animal care and structure in place. We believe this is a necessary step to ensure the welfare of the animals at this facility.

We have also sent a letter to AZA requesting revocation of accreditation concerning these violations. In a recent accreditation review requested by the City of Topeka, AZA tabled accreditation due to numerous other violations, yet stated that the zoo was not responsible for the deaths of these animals. That is also unacceptable.

Thank you for your consideration of this important matter,

Donald W. Elroy
Director of Captive Wildlife Advocacy
Stop Animal Exploitation Now! (SAEN)

Attachments:
AZA review
USDA inspections


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