Exhibitor to display big cats at Illinois mall

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For Immediate Release:
June 6, 2007

Lisa Wathne 757-622-7382

Mt. Vernon, Ill. — This morning, after learning that G.W. Exotic Animal Memorial Park’s (GW) exotic-animal display is scheduled to appear at the Times Square Mall today through June 10, PETA fired off a letter to Scott A. Wolstein, chair and CEO of Developers Diversified Realty—which owns the mall—calling on him to immediately cancel GW’s appearances and enact a policy prohibiting the display of exotic animals in the future. PETA points out that GW has a record of animal abuse and chronic failure to comply with the federal Animal Welfare Act and warns Wolstein about the potential dangers of allowing the public to come into contact with exotic animals.

During PETA’s investigation of GW last year, an undercover investigator witnessed that a lion was not provided with pain relief following the amputation of the stump of her leg after it was torn off by tigers, that a wounded horse suffered for days with an untreated broken leg before dying and being fed to big cats, that tigers were hit with a rifle butt, and that a goat had an untreated head wound. PETA points out that GW has been cited repeatedly by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for violating the minimum standards of care set forth in the federal Animal Welfare Act. In January 2006, GW was put on probation for 18 months and paid a $25,000 fine to settle USDA charges that included dangerous animal-handling practices, filthy transport conditions, failure to provide drinking water, insufficient staffing, and many filthy, wet, unsafe, and dilapidated enclosures.

Close encounters with wild animals also put people at serious risk. In March, at GW’s animal park in Wynnewood, Okla., two chimpanzees escaped from their enclosure and reportedly ran loose for nearly an hour before being recaptured. In January, a mall patron was bitten by a young African lion who was exhibited by GW at the Sunset Mall in San Angelo, Texas.

“Animals who are relegated to prison-like cages in backyard breeding facilities are ticking time bombs,” says PETA Director Debbie Leahy. “For the safety of animals and the public, it’s time to ban all exotic-animal displays and send the likes of GW packing.”

PETA’s letter to Developers Diversified Reality Chair and CEO Scott A. Wolstein—as well as broadcast-quality video footage of PETA’s investigation—are available upon request. For more information, please visit PETA.org.


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