Zoo to keep bobcat exhibit open despite recent killing by cougar

Associated Press
Posted on Thu, Aug. 31, 2006

CHIPPEWA FALLS, Wis. – A local zoo will keep its bobcat exhibit open despite protests from an animal-rights group upset after a cougar killed a bobcat there, a city official said.

Members of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA, called for the closure of the exhibit at the Irvine Park Zoo after last Friday’s mauling.

Zoo officials said a zookeeper forgot to lock a door between the cages after cleaning the outside of the cages. One of the two bobcats, a female around 8 years old, wandered into the adjoining cage where a cougar killed it.

Mayor Dan Hedrington said he appreciated PETA’s concerns but the exhibit will remain.

“I can assure everyone that our animals are cared for by a professional and caring staff,” he said.

In a letter addressed to Hedrington and city council members, PETA called on zoo officials to permanently close the zoo’s bobcat exhibit and relocate the remaining bobcat to a sanctuary.

In the letter, PETA blamed the zoo for creating a dangerous and deadly environment for animals through incompetence and neglect.

William Faherty, the Chippewa Falls director of Parks, Recreation and Forestry, acknowledged the role of human error in last week’s mauling.

“We accept that, but I will not accept PETA saying we’re plagued with problems,” he said.

A building for a new exhibit for the animals has been completed but the interior isn’t yet finished, Faherty said. He estimated the cost at between $250,000 to $300,000, which he said must be raised in donations.

Information from: The Chippewa Herald, http://www.chippewa.com

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