Marcus Cook continues to dupe the public
< ![if !vml]>< ![endif]>While appealing the landmark animal abuse case and fine against him, Zoo Dynamics/Marcus Cook continues to deceive and endanger the public while breeding, transporting and abusing his big cats. When will it ever end? Dee has made it very easy for everyone to fight on behalf of the animal babies dying under his care.
Please click on Tiger Exhibit Draws Large Crowds at Grayson County Fair
for a list of contacts you can send your outrage to.
Copy of my letter to all TV/radio & fair organizers:
I was just sick at my stomach to see that the Grayson County Fair had been duped, like so many others, by a man as notorious as Marcus Cook/Zoo Dynamics. Not only is he an adjudicated animal abuser of the worst kind, he has misappropriated funds, and endangered the public at venues all over the country. If you had just done a bit of research, you would surely have stumbled onto his long, dangerous past fraught with dead, tortured, and mistreated animals as well as injured patrons. Having him at your fair has, unknowingly, exposed you to such liability.
The Texas attorney general has called Cook’s business practices “deceptive” while the USDA has, after 6 years of observation and evidence gathering, ordered him to stop his exhibitions, stripped him of his license and issued a $100,000 fine – a monumental amount for the USDA to levy. Cook continues his horrific abuse of big cats and public endangerment while appealing this case.
Administrative Law Judge Victor Palmer ruled that, “Marcus Cook has a history of deceiving the public, USDA and other law enforcement agencies” and his operation has "repeatedly endangered the lives of their customers and employees. In addition to the astonishing lack of precaution taken by the respondents to protect the public, they also failed to feed their animals or properly provide them with veterinary care."
While it may be too late for you to stop this exhibit, please do not make the same mistake again. No amount of added patrons is worth the risk of endangering the public in general nor the animals he abuses in particular.
Thank you for your future consideration,
Below are just a few of dozens and dozens of articles documenting this man’s past:
Our View: Hold that tiger
Duluth News Tribune – 06/29/2008
If a wild animal exhibitor brings a couple of tigers to town, one of which
is very pregnant, and sets up shop at a carnival where the female gives
birth to four cubs that he displays publicly only to see them die the next
day, should he be welcomed back?
How about if he made the trip last year after being socked with a lengthy
complaint from the United States Department of Agriculture alleging Animal
Welfare Act violations, as well as a $100,000 fine for fraud from the
attorney general of Texas?
Well, sanctions or not, Marcus Cook and his Zoo Dynamics tiger show have
been barnstorming the South and Midwest this year with the Mighty Thomas
Carnival, which is preparing to set up shop in the Duluth Entertainment
Convention Center parking lot this week. But hold your horses – or tigers –
because this time, the carnies may be stripped of their stripes.
"I’m not sure if the tigers are coming with us or not," Mighty Thomas
co-owner Tom Atkins told the News Tribune’s editorial page staff early last
week, acknowledging that the big cat sideshow had been traveling with the
carnival "for a couple of weeks."
Atkins advised calling back later in the week. In the meantime, the office
of Attorney General Greg Abbott of Texas, the state where Cook is based,
had plenty to report.
"What name is he operating under today?" asked spokesman Charlie Castillo
when the newspaper called to inquire about the status of the "Final
Judgment and Agreed Permanent Injunction" signed by Cook and the attorney
general’s office in February 2007. Asserting that Cook had fraudulently
operated various nonprofit entities – ZooCats Inc., Zoo America, and the
Kaufman County Humane Society, among others – the ruling enjoined him from
ever again establishing a nonprofit in the state, as well as claiming any
affiliation with Save the Tiger funds sponsored by Exxon and the National
Fish and Wildlife Foundation.
With regard to dangerous animals, the judgment enjoined Cook from
"misrepresenting or causing confusion … as to Defendants’ safety record
… including representing that Defendants have a ‘perfect safety record.’"
It would appear that he does not. In 2005, a woman was bitten in the hand
by a tiger cub Cook exhibited at a Florida auto dealership, the St.
Petersburg Times reported. A year later, according to numerous news
reports, one of Cook’s workers required 2,000 stitches after being mauled
by a tiger that had escaped his Texas facility.
In Duluth last year, Cook dismissed the incident, telling the News Tribune
the worker was trying to commit "suicide by tiger." (The worker disputes
his claim.) And Cook said the attorney general judgment – which would
seemingly enjoin him from making suicide-by-tiger excuses regarding his
safety record – wasn’t as severe as it sounded and the fine had been
Not quite. On Thursday, Texas attorney general spokesman Thomas Kelley gave
an update. "Mr. Cook is mistaken," he e-mailed. "Short answer: yes, the
judgment still applies; no, he hasn’t complied with the judgment; and yes,
the $100,000 is reinstated."
It looks like Cook won’t soon be getting any ticket revenue in Duluth to
pay down that debt. On Friday, the News Tribune editorial staff called
Atkins of Mighty Thomas again to ask if the tigers were coming to town.
"They’re not," he said, and hung up.
Cook did not respond to requests for comment. His lawyer, Bryan Sample, who
also signed the Texas judgment, said of it: "There are ongoing matters that
would be improper for me to make any comment." As for the cause of the
tiger cubs’ deaths last year – Cook reportedly sent their remains for a
necropsy shortly after the incident – Sample said, "I really don’t know. I
don’t believe any criminal charges or charges from the [United States
Department of Agriculture] were brought against him or anyone else from the
He’s correct, but the USDA has other matters to discuss with Cook in a
September hearing on its voluminous complaint against him.
For Duluth and Minnesota, the larger question is what state and local
governments can do to control wild animal exhibits gone wrong. A state law
passed in 2004 requires residents who own dangerous animals to register
them with their counties, but is mum about visiting exhibitors. As for
Duluth, city spokesman Jeff Papas was in the process of researching
relevant ordinances on Friday when told Cook probably wasn’t coming to
"That might solve the whole issue completely," he said.
Maybe this time, but not completely.
BACKGROUND INFORMATION ABOUT MARCUS COOK:
The Texas attorney general’s office in 2003 obtained an emergency court order seeking to prevent Cook and the company he then worked with, ZooCats, from exhibiting tigers, the newspaper said. The Texas agency also alleged ZooCats lied about having associations with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and was improperly registered as a non-profit organization. Cook denied letting the public handle tiger cubs or making any misrepresentations. The office also claimed that ZooCats was set up as a false nonprofit, using publicly donated money for profit-making purposes. As part of Cook’s agreement with the attorney general’s office, ZooCats was dissolved and Cook must not represent that he has a good safety record. He also must not tell people he has a bachelor’s degree in zoology. He was ordered to pay $100,000. Cook charges a fee for visitors to have their photos taken with tiger cubs.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture, which oversees animal exhibits, filed charges against Cook, in part for allegedly failing to handle animals safely, failing to protect animals from temperature extremes, and using a cattle prod to stun a tiger as a means of discipline during an exhibit.
In February, Cook was charged by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission with unsafe handling of wildlife after it was revealed that a visitor to an exhibit at a car dealership was bitten by one of his tigers. Another cub used by Cook bit an employee while on display at Six Flags Over Dallas in 2002.
Just two months ago the USDA issued a complaint against Cook for violating the federal Animal Welfare Act.
The department said, in the complaint, there are "repeated instances" of Cook’s failure to provide "adequate veterinary care, food, water, or housing to animals." The complaint went on to say those failures "have resulted in injuries to animals and to the public." He also has been sued by the Texas attorney general, and Cook was ordered to stop operating as a nonprofit. The Texas attorney general called Cook’s business practices "deceptive."
But a complaint filed in May 2007, by the U.S. Department of Agriculture claims Cook has supervised numerous animals that received improper veterinary care and had numerous untreated health problems, and that he allowed the public – including children – to handle tigers. The charges date from 2002 to 2007.
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has obtained an emergency court order in Kaufman County to stop a traveling hands-on exhibit featuring wild jungle cats and cubs.
Abbott said the action was taken to prevent harm to the public from exhibits put on by ZooCats Inc. The nonprofit organization brings animals such as tigers, leopards, lions and cougars to exhibit at children’s birthday parties, weddings, commercial and media events and educational settings. In addition to the emergency court order, the charitable assets of ZooCats and related nonprofits, as well as operator Marcus Cline-Hines Cook, have been frozen. District Judge Howard Tygrett also named Dallas attorney Robert Trimble as temporary receiver. Trimble will oversee placement of the wild cats and other animals in the professional care of the International Exotic Feline Sanctuary in Boyd, northwest of Fort Worth .
"This operator deliberately downplayed the potential danger of these animals, as well as the group’s safety record and trainer qualifications, letting children and adults touch and hold them without regard for disease or possible physical harm," said Abbott in a statement. "This dangerous deception against the public, and the organization’s false assertions about its charitable intentions, led our legal experts to conclude that we needed to act quickly."
The attorney general said the organization also falsely claims to be distributing charitable funds it collects for its services. It purports to represent, and donate funds to, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s Save the Tiger Fund, and wildlife programs underwritten by Irving-based Exxon Mobil Corp.
But, said Abbot, these organizations claim no affiliation with ZooCats and have not given Cook permission to use their logos or trademarks in exhibits. Cook also has falsely claimed an affiliation with the Dallas World Aquarium, the attorney general said. Abbot said he also suspects that Cook has misappropriated charitable assets for personal use and will ask the court to correct this abuse of public funds.
The state will request civil penalties under the Deceptive Trade Practices Act and the Texas Nonprofit Corporations Act. Also requested are attorneys’ fees and reimbursement of investigative costs associated with the case. ZooCats related nonprofits, which are also named in the lawsuit, include Zoological Studies Group, ZooCats Zoological Systems, Specialized Species Humane Society Inc., Zoo America Inc., and Technology Specialities and Research Group Inc.
In 2003, the USDA filed charges against Cook for alleged AWA violations including using a cattle prod to stun a tiger as a means of discipline, exposing young animals to excessive handling, causing animals trauma and harm, unsupervised public contact, mishandling an injured zebra, dozens of instances of unsafe handling of dangerous animals during public exhibition, allowing a bear cub to be teased with a stick, filthy enclosures in disrepair, exposing animals to extreme heat and inadequate ventilation, failing to provide minimum space, food and water, and failing to comply with veterinary care requirements.
Cook was recently charged with unsafe handling by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission after one of his tiger cubs bit a woman at a car dealership in Tampa . PETA filed a formal complaint with the USDA after obtaining photos of two of Cook’s tiger cubs at the dealership with bloody abrasions around their noses and eyes. Another cub used by ZooCats bit an employee while on display at Six Flags Over Dallas in 2002 and the exhibit was later removed from the park.
Animals used for photo ops are often still babies and are typically forcibly removed from their mothers, causing extreme stress to both mother and baby. When they outgrow their "cuteness," exotic animals are often sold at auctions, where they may be purchased by "canned-hunt" operators or people who kill them illegally for their body parts.