PETA Files Administrative Appeal Over Heavily Redacted Records of Roadside Zoo’s Animal-Welfare Violations
For Immediate Release:
March 27, 2018
Moira Colley 202-483-7382
Wynnewood, Okla. – On Monday, PETA filed an appeal with the administrator of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) contending that the agency is violating the Freedom of Information Act by withholding critical information about federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA) violations by the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park, or “G.W. Zoo.”
In March 2016, PETA submitted a request for records relating to a February 2016 USDA inspection of G.W. Zoo after the release of a report stating that the roadside zoo had been cited for violating five AWA standards. The violations included holding tigers and primates in enclosures that could injure them and endangering the public by holding big cats in enclosures that they could potentially escape from. (Shortly after this, a tiger escaped from G.W. and was fatally shot.)
PETA sought photos and video footage from the inspection and wanted to know if the USDA had cited G.W. Zoo for any additional violations. Nearly two years later, the agency finally responded but refused to hand over 38 pages of the 49-page report and had blacked out the majority of the remaining 11 pages, including details from the inspection report that it had previously posted on its own website. By way of explanation, the USDA wrote that “revealing the inspection findings could cause embarrassment, harassment or other stigma to the licensee.”
“Any roadside zoo that keeps dangerous wild animals in ramshackle enclosures should be embarrassed,” says PETA Foundation Deputy General Counsel Delcianna Winders. “The USDA should be exposing animal abusers not protecting them from public scrutiny, and PETA will keep fighting for access to this type of vital information.”
PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—has been fighting the USDA’s lack of transparency ever since the agency removed thousands of inspection reports from its website. The group has published many of the scrubbed documents, filed a lawsuit against the agency over the blackout, and more.
For more information, please visit PETA.org.