Jungle Safari Reacts to Bad USDA Inspections

Avatar BCR | May 13, 2011 7 Views 0 Likes 0 Ratings

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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:

Got Cats?
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.

Sophie Simon
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.

Fox Charlotte

Story Updated: May 12, 2011 at 11:05 PM EDT

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This post currently has 11 responses.

  1. Rachel Lee

    August 16, 2012 at 6:17 am

    I just saw them here in Aurora, Indiana….. I was so upset by this I walked away in tears. The tiger they had in the small cage was uneasy and just paced in circles and circles and seemed to be over heating. There was a small white pony that looked like it's spirit had been completely broken. It looked so sad, tired and you could just feel it. It was beign forced to just stand still tied to one of those things that goes around for pony rides with one other horse. No one was getting rides so it was just standing there looking sad and holding one of its legs/hoofs a bit off the ground like it hurt. Please someone make them stop exploting these animals this way, this is not ok and our country shouldn't support animal abuse and explotation.

  2. Rachel Lee

    August 16, 2012 at 6:26 am

    The cubs are also VERY over handled…. they are passed back and forth to all kinds of strangers putting their hands all over them all day long, they looked exhausted and depressed.

    • LaWanna Mitchell

      August 18, 2012 at 3:16 pm

      Rachel, YOU can help change this by going to http://www.CatLaws.com and taking action there. The only way these things will stop is if enough people care enough to speak out for the animals who have no voice in the matter.

    • Rachel Lee

      August 18, 2012 at 3:19 pm

      It's not just the tiger and the babies they are overhandling it's even that there was a little white pony there that just looked totally depressed and dispondant tied to one of those things that goes around and around. It like it was old or just really tired and just didn't want to be there at all… it was awful looking at his eyes and one of his hoofs was bothering him and he was holding it up. Do you know who i could call in the area to complain?

    • LaWanna Mitchell

      August 18, 2012 at 3:24 pm

      Rachel Lee I don't know. I would start with the health department, or animal control and maybe they could tell you who your local area you could take your concerns for. Maybe your local Humane Society could direct you. Oh this is heartbreaking. I would also make a formal complaint to the facility that hosted them. Its a long shot but you could contact the newspaper or TV.

    • Rachel Lee

      August 18, 2012 at 3:24 pm

      I swear, the look in his eyes and the his whole demeor was so overwhelmingly miserable that if i had the money i would have offered to buy him from them just so i could take him out of that situation. I would like to go back and take pictures, but it bothered me so bad i don't know if i can even do that.

    • LaWanna Mitchell

      August 18, 2012 at 3:26 pm

      Rachel Lee Actually as hard as it is photos and videos are the best thing you can do. It is harder to ignore a youtube video and photos than it is to ignore a complaint without proof.

    • LaWanna Mitchell

      August 18, 2012 at 3:29 pm

      Rachel, honestly the photo and video evidence is important. you can make a complaint that's one thing but making a complaint backed up with video and photographic proof is a lot harder to dismiss.

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