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Iowa mall’s exotic animal show draws ire of PETA

By Rob Daniel
Iowa City Press-Citizen

A planned show at Sycamore Mall featuring exotic animals later this month has gained the attention of an international animal rights group.

G.W. Exotic Animal Memorial Park, based in Wynnewood, Okla., is scheduled to produce its “Mystical Magic of the Endangered” show at Sycamore Mall May 30 to June 3 at Sycamore Mall. According to Jennifer Ross of Sycamore Mall’s management, the show features the show’s feature act, Joe Exotic, performing magic tricks to spread a message to school-age children about the dangers of drugs and drunken driving and the importance of saving the environment. The show also features animals such as lions and tigers, with which people can pose for photos for donations to benefit endangered animals.

However, the appearance has gained the attention of the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA, who is asking the Iowa City Council to ban any display or events featuring exotic animals on mall property. In a letter to the Iowa City Council, Lisa Wathne, a captive exotic animal specialist with PETA, alleges “dead, dying and injured animals”, crowded conditions and “a serious lack of basic necessities such as food, water and veterinary care.” Wathne also alleged in the letter staffers with the show were untrained and intentionally cruel to several animals.

Kevin Digmann, Sycamore Mall’s general manager, said his investigation into the show that has performed at other malls across the country found no abuses.

“We’ve heard a lot of positive things about it,” he said. “We did our research to check. It seemed to go off smooth.”

The city council will discuss the letter at its work session on Monday and decide whether to discuss a new ordinance at later meetings, assistant city manager Dale Helling said.

http://www.press-citizen.com/apps/pbcs.dll/ article?AID=/20070511/NEWS01/70511004/1079