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For Immediate Release: 03/17/06

Investigation Footage Exposes USDA Enforcement Inadequacies

Group files eight complaints against USDA-licensed facilities for public safety violations

Sacramento, CA ­— The Animal Protection Institute (API) today filed eight complaints with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) documenting various violations of federal law by USDA-licensed and inspected facilities that display, keep, and/or breed dangerous exotic animals. The documentation submitted by API includes video footage and still photos from a recent nationwide investigation into the largely unregulated private ownership of dangerous exotic animals in the U.S.

The investigation documented numerous violations of federal law by USDA-licensed facilities and individuals, including:

  • Allowing the public, including children, to have direct contact with dangerous wild animals including bears, primates, kangaroos and large cats such as tigers
  • One facility, whose license was revoked by the USDA more than five years ago, still operating and directly endangering visitors by allowing ”close encounters” with big cats
  • Animals confined or displayed with inadequate and unsafe barriers
  • Facilities failing to provide adequate shelter and proper upkeep of pens and caging of dangerous exotic animals

The USDA oversees the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA), which extends minimal protection to dangerous exotic animals who are exhibited to the public, bred for commercial sale, used in research or transported commercially. The AWA has established several regulations that govern safety measures, proper handling and basic care and treatment standards. Our investigation revealed numerous facilities violating these provisions.

“We have provided clear, documented evidence that these facilities are breaking the law and endangering the public. The USDA must act immediately on the findings from this investigation” says Michelle Thew, Chief Executive Officer of API.

“At least 20 serious injuries and deaths caused by privately-owned exotic animals have been reported in the U.S. in the last year alone,” Thew continues. “The owners of these facilities are playing roulette with these people’s lives. The USDA must act on these complaints before another tragedy happens”.

API is a national nonprofit animal advocacy organization working to end animal cruelty and exploitation through legislation, litigation and public education. API also manages a Primate Sanctuary that is currently home to more than 400 primates, many of whom were rescued from abusive or exploitative private ownership situations. For more information, visit www.api4animals.org.


Zibby Wilder, Animal Protection Institute (API), 916-267-7266
DVD b-roll and still images available by request

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