Please LEVY a MAXIMUM FINE against the Forest Park Zoo for their blatant disregard of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) when their negligence allowed Dizzy, a guenon, to escape. This facility has also been cited for the death of at least one primate. This behavior must NOT be tolerated and MUST be punished with the maximum penalty allowed under the Animal Welfare Act.
Ohio-based animal rights group, citing
escape by Dizzy the monkey, files USDA complaint against Forest Park zoo
By Patrick Johnson, MassLive.com, June 24, 2016
SPRINGFIELD — The saga of Dizzy the Monkey did not end with his capture and return to his cage Thursday night; it apparently merely moved to another arena.
A national animals rights group, Stop Animal Exploitation Now!, announced Friday it has filed a formal complaint with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which oversees zoos and animal exhibitions, charging that the escape of Dizzy underscores larger problems at the zoo in regards to the treatment of animals.
The group charges that the escape of Dizzy reveals multiple violations of federal regulations by the zoo.
"The Forest Park zoo has shown a high level of incompetence, which has been fatal for at least two primates," said spokesman Michael A. Budkie. "What else can you say about a zoo whose staff is so incompetent they can't even keep the animals in the enclosures?"
Stop Animal Exploitation Now! is a Milford, Ohio, nonprofit organization that was founded in 1996 to oppose the abuse of animals in laboratories. According to its website, its primary concern appears to be the treatment of animals in medical and product testing, but it has also spoken out against trained animal acts in circuses, and the mistreatment of animals at zoos in Kansas, Tennessee and Texas.
Dizzy, a 12-pound Guenon monkey, escaped from his pen Tuesday. A caretaker left a door unlocked as he fielded questions from a zoo visitor, and Dizzy was able to turn the knob and escape. He spent the next two days loose in the park until he was finally tranquilized and returned to his cage Thursday afternoon.
In addition to citing the escape, the group mentions the deaths of two
monkeys at the zoo during the winter of 2014-2015.
A 19-month-old marmoset died Dec. 29, 2014, as a result of injuries suffered in a fight with other monkeys, while a 10-year-old tamarin died on Jan. 3, 2015, after a circuit breaker tripped, knocking out power and heat to the monkey's shed.
The zoo has since added a backup system in the event of power outages.
According to USDA records, the last time the zoo was inspected by the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service was in October and no deficiencies were found.
An inspection in February 2015 , shortly after the deaths of the two monkeys, cited the electrical problems with the circuit breaker and two other concerns.
One was a buildup of snow inside the wolf pen that reduced an 8-foot high fence to about 5 feet, and a faulty florescent light the provided insufficient light to the cougar pen.
The report notes all three concerns had been address at that time or were to be shortly.
Tanya Espinosa, a public affairs specialist with the USDA, confirmed on Friday that the agency has received notice of a complaint by Stop Animal Exploitation Now!
She said the USDA was already aware of Dizzy's escape prior to receiving the complaint, and began looking into it "to determine whether there were any Animal Welfare Act noncompliances that contributed to it."
Darlene Blaney, business manager for the Zoo in Forest Park, said the organization has no comment about Stop Animal Exploitation Now! or about its complaint. She said the zoo has been accredited by the Zoological Association of America, and is inspected annually by the USDA.
She also said the federal agency inspected the facility in 2015 after the monkey deaths and issued no fines, and the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty of Animals issued a finding that there was no cruelty or neglect in the deaths of the two monkeys.
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