Watchdog Organization Calls for Immediate Suspension of USDA License and End of AZA Accreditation at Topeka Zoo
Captive Wildlife Advocacy

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Watchdog Organization Calls for Immediate Suspension of USDA License and End of AZA Accreditation at Topeka Zoo


Press Release
For Immediate Release:
Wednesday June 16, 2010
Contact: Don Elroy (SAEN) -- (865) 286-9082 jetsonboy1@charter.net

TOPEKA, KS – 12 animals have died at Topeka Zoo due to negligence and improper veterinary care within the last __ months (how long?) at the Topeka Zoo according to USDA documents, AZA accreditation reviews and City audit reports and investigations. As a result of the continuing danger to animal lives, S.A.E.N. has sent letters to USDA and AZA’s Accreditation committee calling for suspension of the zoo’s license and accreditation due to extreme negligence.

In 2009 and early 2010, 11 animals died at the Topeka Zoo -- 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.”

The zoo has also been the subject of an investigation regarding the escape of a bobcat, during which zoo officials were reluctant to close the facility. There have also been recent break-ins at the zoo.

Despite violations which have continued for over a year, regulators and accreditors have taken little action while animals suffered and died. AZA accreditors found violations of their policies while stating that that the zoo had no culpability in the animal deaths. USDA has opened an investigation into the zoo long after the death of these animals.

“In almost 30 years of investigating captive wildlife issues, this is one of the most egregious situations that I have seen from any zoo in this country”, stated Don Elroy, Director of Captive Wildlife for SAEN. “Seeing the zoo and their accrediting body defend their actions as acceptable practice is beyond comprehension. No animal should suffer and die due to the negligence of their caretakers at the zoo, the accreditation body or federal regulators. This is an unacceptable situation and all parties should be held accountable through immediate suspension of federal license to exhibit and an end to accreditation”, added Elroy.

Suspension of licensing will close the zoo temporarily and allow regulators and zoo officials to correct internal and external problems. SAEN recommends this procedure to allow the officials to devote time to animal care and relieve them of duties to the public.

All documents referred in this release are available through S.A.E.N.

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See also:

Agency admits it puts frequent violators, such as Topeka Zoo, on tighter leash - 3 Jul 2010
Troubled Topeka Zoo to Get Another USDA Inspection - 23 Jun 2010
Group: Suspend Zoo's License - 22 Jun 2010
Group Calls on USDA to Punish Zoo - 22 Jun 2010


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