MONROE, N.C. – From the tame and the typical to totally wild. The traveling petting zoo called Jungle Safari has a little bit of everything, all in the parking lot of Monroe Crossing mall. A mom of two boys says, “I think it’s cool, we were just driving by and like, free admission, why not?” And 11-year-old Zack Weilage says, “Animals are amazing!”
There are tigers, there are camels, there are lemurs and there is a USDA inspection report from March. It levels two concerns, first: a 16-week-old “highly active” tiger cub used for pictures with the public. “‘Too rambunctious’ is actually what she (the inspector) said,” says the zoo owner Robert Engesser.
The inspector noted her concern that the cub couldn’t be controlled in a way that would keep him and the public safe. Engesser replaced the cub with a nine and a half week old lion.
The other issue: a capuchin monkey. The report lists hair loss and tail biting; signs of psychological distress. The zoo had not documented the steps it was taking to address the monkey’s neurotic behavior, often caused by a lack of interaction. The report says her mate died two months ago. Engesser says, “There’s quite a bit of interaction.”
Engesser has owned the traveling zoo for about 13 years. He appealed the March inspection, was denied, and says he will appeal again. He says, “I don’t feel in that situation they were correct, but they’re entitled to their opinion just like I am mine.”
Engesser says he has 30 big cats at his permanent facility in Florida. He rotates which ones are on tour. The two-year -old female tiger currently with him will stay inside her cage for four weeks before returning to Florida.
“It seems fun and it seems great for the kids, but in reality, it’s not, especially not for the poor animals in there,” says Monroe resident Felicia Kiker. She didn’t like what she saw at the petting zoo. “The animals are all in little cages, animals which are supposed to be in the wild,” says Kiker.
Engesser expects between five and six thousand visitors through the weekend. He insists all of the animals are well taken care of and that public safety is his priority. He says, “If we feel it’s a danger to the animal as well as the public, we’re not gonna use it.”
The USDA has inspected the zoo eight times in the last three years. The March report is the only one with citations. Mall management wasn’t aware of the March inspection until FOX Charlotte brought it to their attention. They tell us, “Jungle Safari approached us about operating at Monroe Crossing and we offered them the space free of charge because we knew it would be a great attraction for the community.”
Big Cat Rescue
No legitimate animal facility drags their wild animals out to parking lots for people to pay to peep. More about this particularly bad outfit here:
Big mistake, Monroe Crossing mall. Animals in cages, baby animals taken away from their mothers = animal abuse. How can anyone think this is OK?
UnionCountyResident and 10 more liked this
Animal prison is all it is – they may look well taken care of, but so would you be in San Quentin Prison…does that mean you would be happy there? I have seen enough animal abuse cases that stem from these horrid roadside zoos…and they keep breeding and keep the exotic pet trade alive. The laws need to stiffen up to shut these people down. Anyone that thinks this is okay needs to do their research on photo ops with cubs…check youtube for videos…enlighten yourself to the traveling horror that is a petting zoo. DO NOT SUPPORT.
4 people liked this.
I spoke to the wife of a man who worked for the Engesser’s several years ago. She said her husband was so distraught with the way they treated their animals that he quit after a few days. They punched the animals in the face, they were abusive to them. She wanted them shut down and couldn’t believe nothing could be done about it with the laws we have. The best thing is DO NOT ATTEND THIS SIDESHOW! It’s supply and demand. If the public stops demanding it, there won’t be a market for his abuse!
4 people liked this.
These animals are not taken care of. There are numerous reports of abuse and neglect from former workers. These owners care only about their bottom line and NOT the care and education about these creatures. Do not support attractions like this. It only keeps them in business. You can visit sanctuaries where they are happy and given great care.
4 people liked this.
Boycott Monroe Crossing Mall until they stop supporting animal cruelty.
5 people liked this.
Amanda – part of the extinction in the wild – is the exotic pet trade, and these traveling petting zoo, although enjoyable for kids, promotes this trade. I do animal care at a facility, Carolina Tiger rescue, in Pittsboro, NC and the majority of our Rescues are from privatley owned zoos. They may seem content to you, but keeping any wild animal cages in small spaces for 4 weeks plus, is cruel. They often suffer mentally and physically from this.
7 people liked this.
Shows how much you know (or don’t know) about WILD animals. I work at a sanctuary with exotic animals that were taken from the wild; abused, neglected, poor diets, etc. Some are loving one minute and snapping at you the next. I have the scar to prove. This is wrong and the mall and this “zoo” should be boycotted.
5 people liked this.
I also live in monroe and am a frequent shopper at the monroe crossing mall. I can testify I will never shop there again guess im just going to have to waste gas money and shop at carolina place from now on. Im just glad my daughter didnt get that job there now. everything happens for a reason.
I stopped by monroe crossing’s petting zoo today and i was just in shock and awe how could the mall be ok with this. then i find out that the poor tiger has to stay in its cage for four weeks. I cant believe monroe crossing would support this. I have been shopping at the monroe mall for 15 years. I can personally guarntee me or my family will never set foot in that dreadful place again.
BOYCOTT MONROE CROSSING!!!! BOYCOTT MONROE CROSSING -A Monroe resident-
Story Updated: May 12, 2011 at 11:05 PM EDT