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For Immediate Release: 04/06/06

Investigation Exposes Public Safety and Animal Welfare Issues at Washington State Tourist Attractions; Complaints Filed with USDA

Sacramento, CA — The Animal Protection Institute (API) has filed two complaints with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) documenting various violations of federal law by two USDA-licensed Washington State tourist attractions: the Olympic Game Farm in Sequim and Outback Kangaroo Farm in Arlington. The documentation submitted by API includes video footage from a recent investigation into the issue of unregulated private ownership of dangerous exotic animals in Washington State.

The investigation documented numerous violations of federal law including:

  • Allowing the public, including children, to have direct contact with dangerous wild animals
  • Animals confined or displayed with inadequate and unsafe barriers
  • Facilities failing to provide adequate shelter, proper upkeep of pens and caging, and/or appropriate perimeter fencing of dangerous 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.

“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.

Washington is one of only 13 states with no laws prohibiting the private possession of exotic animals such as cougars, tigers, bears, primates and dangerous reptiles. Last month, the Washington State legislature failed to vote on HB 1151 “The Exotics Bill” before the end of the legislative session, leaving the public and animals unprotected for the sixth year in a row.

“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 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.

Additional b-roll footage of investigation details is available by request at 916-447-3085 x205.

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Contact:
Zibby Wilder
Animal Protection Institute (API)
916-447-3085 x205

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