Unaccredited zoo at Illinois mall on probation for failure to comply with Animal Welfare Act

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For Immediate Release:
May 17, 2007

Lisa Wathne 757-622-7382

Sterling, Ill. — This morning, after learning that the Northland Mall
has ignored PETA’s warnings about G.W. Exotic Animal Memorial Park’s
(GW) exotic-animal display, PETA fired off a letter to Sterling Mayor
Ted Aggen and the City Council calling on the city to enact
legislation that would prohibit such displays in the future. The
exhibit is scheduled to appear at the mall next week. In its letter,
PETA points out that GW has a record of animal abuse and chronic
failure to comply with the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA) and warns
Mayor Aggen and the City Council 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 AWA. 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, two chimpanzees escaped from their enclosure at GW’s animal
park in Wynnewood, Okla., 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 welfare of animals and the safety of the public, it’s time to
ban all exotic-animal displays and send the likes of GW packing.”

PETA’s letter to Mayor Aggen and the City Council—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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