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For Immediate Release: 08/04/06

National Group Demands USDA Action on N.C. Zoo Complaint

Complaint highlights blatant public safety and animal welfare violations at roadside zoo where drugs, weapons recently found

Charlotte, NC — The Animal Protection Institute (API) is demanding USDA action on a March 2006 complaint filed against Metrolina Wildlife Park (formerly known as Charlotte Metro Zoo.) In light of the recent raid that found weapons, drugs, and illegal exotic and endangered animals on the premises, API requests the USDA begin an immediate investigation to ensure the safety of zoo visitors, the surrounding community, and the animals kept there.

API’s complaint features video documentation of animals kept in completely inadequate conditions, owner Steve Macaluso behaving recklessly (being bitten by a tiger, putting his head into the mouths of tigers, sitting on tigers) and endangering the public by allowing people to have direct contact with an adult tiger and failing to secure a gate separating tigers from zoo visitors.

API also documented disturbing incidents of child endangerment inside a private residence on the grounds of Metrolina Wildlife Park, where a young child was unsafely kept with monkeys, tiger cubs, and an adult leopard.

“API has clearly documented the dangers this man poses to himself, the community and the animals under his care,” says Nicole Paquette, Director of Legal and Government Affairs at API. “With law enforcement’s most recent findings, it’s frankly frightening that the USDA has chosen to ignore, rather than act on, our complaint.”

The USDA oversees the federal AWA, which extends minimal protection to dangerous exotic animals who are exhibited to the public and sets specific requirements for their separation from the public.

API has worked with North Carolina legislators this year on a “study bill” on the keeping of exotic animals, which recently passed. This study bill directs a team of experts to “study” the dangers that these animals pose and come up with a solution to the problem.

“We have provided clear, documented evidence that this facility is breaking the law by not giving adequate care to these animals and endangering the public, including children,” says Paquette. “The USDA must act immediately on this complaint.”

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.

B-roll footage, still photos and a copy of the USDA complaint are available by request at 916-447-3085 x205 or email press@api4animals.org

Pictures and a report detailing issues at this facility can also be accessed at www.api4animals.org/downloads/pdf/Exotic-Pets_Case-Study-NC.pdf</strong>


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

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