Natural Bridge Zoo Closes to the Public

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Exotic animals deserve to live free in their natural environments.

Paws Up!

pawsupTo Rockbridge County Circuit Judge Michael Irvine for upholding the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries’ decision to revoke the Natural Bridge Zoo’s state permit.

How many of you visited a roadside zoo when you were a child? Lions, tigers, and elephants who seemed untouchable in movies could now be seen up close. As a child, you may not have given much thought to the animals’ daily lives, just the awe-filled memory of seeing exotic animals in real life.

Throughout the years, more people have come to realize that these majestic animals should not be imprisoned in cages for our enjoyment, but rather they should be allowed to live in their own environments—free. According to a recent news story, the Natural Bridge Zoo has been operated by Karl Mogenson for over thirty years in Rockbridge County, VA. Whereas some establishments improve over time, management of the Natural Bridge Zoo has worsened over the past three decades to the point that it has now become a place of deep sorrow and profound suffering for the animals there. Thankfully, concerned citizens have given these beloved animals a voice. Recent inspections by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) uncovered as many as forty-four animal welfare violations. Upon learning of the USDA inspection report, which cited numerous instances of inadequate veterinary care and inhumane practices, the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries suspended the zoo’s permit to showcase wild animals. In a recent ruling, Rockbridge County Circuit Judge Michael Irvine upheld the state agency’s decision. Thanks to this ruling, the zoo will not be allowed to reopen in the foreseeable future. However, despite numerous citations, the zoo still holds a federal license under the USDA.

Take Action: Please contact the USDA APHIS to encourage the agency to permanently revoke the Natural Bridge Zoo’s federal license.
USDA, APHIS, AC
920 Main Campus Drive,
Suite 200, Unit 3040
Raleigh, NC 27606
Telephone: (919) 855-7100
Fax: (919) 855-7123

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Curb Wild Cat Breeding

The Big Cats and Public Safety Protection Act would help reduce the number of wild cats owned by private individuals.

The Big Cats and Public Safety Protection Act would help reduce the number of wild cats owned by private individuals.

Big cats don’t belong in backyards, traveling circuses, or roadside zoos. HR 1998 and S 1381, Big Cats and Public Safety Protection Act, is intended to help curtail the breeding of these big cats for commercial purposes in the United States and, thus, hopefully, reduce the number of wild cats in private ownership.

Exotic animals should not be bred for the commercial trade. They cannot be properly cared for in private homes and often aren’t cared for by so-called wild cat trainers. Additionally, exotic pets pose a dangerous threat to their owners, neighbors, other pets, and livestock. The events in Zanesville, Ohio, prove this, as do past tragedies such as Travis the chimpanzee, who attacked a friend of his owner’s, and a bear near Cleveland, who killed his owner’s employee. These animals remain wild despite living with people and need the type of environment and care that can rarely be provided by individual hobbyists. These animals are also likely to pass zoonotic diseases when kept in close quarters with humans.

Contact your senators and representatives and let them know you want to see HR 1998 and S 1381 brought to the floor for a vote this legislative session.

 

New Jersey on Verge of Banning Wild Animals in Circuses

If passed, New Jersey bill A 4088 would penalize those exhibiting bears, elephants, lions, and tigers in circuses throughout the state.

If passed, New Jersey bill A 4088 would penalize those exhibiting bears, elephants, lions, and tigers in circuses throughout the state.

A bill before the New Jersey Assembly, A 4088 , would impose a penalty for the exhibition or use in a performance of live bears, elephants, lions, and tigers in that state.

Wild and exotic animals, such as bears, elephants, lions, and tigers, do not belong in the circus. Many animals are forced to perform by the use of bullhooks, electric shocks, ropes, and other abusive tools. Many circus companies have been cited for violations of the Animal Welfare Act yet persist in forcing these wild animals to perform unnatural tricks. These animals not only face years of both physical and psychological distress, but also pose a threat to onlookers during their performances.

Last year, Greece banned the use of animals in circuses; and just recently, the British government did likewise.

New Jersey residents, contact your legislators and let them know you support A 4088, which would effectively ban the use of live bears, elephants, lions, and tigers in exhibitions and performances in your state. Residents of other states, let your legislators know you would like to see similar legislation to protect wild animals in your state.

Tell Sears: Stop Using Monkeys in Commercials

A capuchin monkey is currently featured in a Sears commercial, exploiting exotic animals for economic gain.

A capuchin monkey is currently featured in a Sears commercial, exploiting exotic animals for economic gain.

A recent Sears commercial features a capuchin monkey. NHES opposes using wild and exotic animals as a means of human entertainment and economic gain. Wild and exotic animals, such as capuchin monkeys, can be unpredictable. Even people who have spent years training wild animals have experienced attacks, pain, and suffering.

Beyond our concern for potential human injury is, of course, our concern for the wild and exotic animals forced to participate in the entertainment industry. Whether stolen from the wild or captive bred, these animals are deprived of their natural habitat, food supply, and companionship necessary to fulfill their instincts.

Often, wild animals are shipped around the country/world, which induces stress that causes much suffering and sometimes death. In addition, many animals are discarded once they become too old or unmanageable to perform, are left to languish in cages, or are sent to roadside zoos when they are no longer considered economically viable.

Furthermore, wild and exotic animals experience much neglect and cruelty, in part, because there is little oversight or control of exhibitors. Even when sanctioned by licensing agents, exhibitors continue to exploit their animals while placing the public in danger.

Ultimately, many “trained” wild animals are, in reality, subservient and apathetic creatures. It is in depriving these sentient animals of their homes and natural lives and in forcing them to participate in unnatural behaviors that cause them to sometimes respond in unpredictable ways.

Please write a polite letter to the CEO of the Sears Holdings Corporation urging his company to discontinue using wild animals in their commercials.

Edward S. Lampert, CEO
Sears Holdings Corporation
3333 Beverly Road
Hoffman Estates, IL 60179
Telephone No.: 847-286-2500

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Keep the Circus From Coming to Your Town

Exotic animals such as these elephants are forced to perform unnatural tricks.

Exotic animals such as these elephants are forced to perform unnatural tricks during circus performances.

It’s that time of year again. Box cars and tractor-trailers carrying wild creatures in chains and cages will be touring the country for the annual circus season. Cole Bros. and Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey are among the most recognized of traveling circuses transporting elephants, monkeys, and big cats, among several other animals, for an average of 26 hours between stops.

While the sole purpose of these companies is to exploit animals for entertainment and their own financial gain, many patrons are unaware of the tortuous acts that take place behind the scenes. Through these training tactics, animals, particularly elephants, are forced to perform unnatural tricks through the use of electric shock, ropes, and sharp metal bull hooks. Cole Bros. Circus has been cited and fined repeatedly by the United States Department of Agriculture for failing to meet “minimum standards of care and treatment” established by the Animal Welfare Act (AWA). Violations include negligent and cruel living conditions, lack of adequate veterinary care, and use of blatant, abusive training tactics.

While animal circuses have been fined thousands of dollars throughout their existence, families still flock to these events unaware of the suffering that these animals endure because of their ticket purchases. These animals not only face years of both physical and psychological distress, but also pose a threat to onlookers during their performances. Contact your city Chamber of Commerce and local venues that support these inhumane performances, and urge them to close their doors to companies allowing such violent training to be committed in their own community.

Click here to view the list of venues and Chambers of Commerce for each state hosting a circus.

When you think about it . . . networks should think about what they show on TV

Chinchilla's are from South America. In the 19th century chinchillas became very rare due to hunting.

Chinchilla’s are from South America. In the 19th century chinchillas became very rare due to hunting. Today they are still being hunted by poachers.

The Style Network recently featured a new reality television program, “Big Rich Atlanta.” An episode that recently aired was about celebrities who want extravagant pets. The pet choices are exotic animals, such as the sugar glider, bearded dragon, macaw, fennec fox, and chinchillas. These particular exotic animals come from Australia, Africa, and South America.

Originally the episode featured wealthy ladies who wanted exotic animals because they have a lot of money and can afford them. This did not send out a very positive message and the reality program has notified its viewers that the show is only for fun. It also states that if a person wants a new companion, to visit his or her local animal shelter.

Remember, exotic animals are not pets. They are wild animals stolen from their natural habitat by poachers. When you think about it . . . networks should think about what they show on TV, and the message they could be sending out to their viewers.

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TV Show Exploits Wildlife for Laughs

Paws Down!
To NBC’s latest exploitation of wild animals for cheap thrills.

NBC’s television series Animal Practice features a number of wild animals. Wild animals belong in the wild, not dressed up in costumes to play second banana for our amusement.

Capuchin and other monkey species are not well suited to being pets and don’t belong in the entertainment industry.

Popular television shows and movies often spawn the creation of kitsch. While some of the items sold are harmless, the popularity of animals in films and television often creates a glut of these animals. To satisfy the demand, these animals are often overbred or captured, bought, and sold with little regard for their care. Infant animals are separated from their mothers only to wind up living in isolation.

Will we see an increase in people wanting capuchin monkeys because of one of the characters on the show? Most likely we will as we saw an increase in capuchins being brought into this country following the debut of Marcel on the television show Friends. These animals belong in the wild, not in our homes. Often once an infant wild animal becomes mature, the owner dumps him or her at a shelter or in the wild because the owner is unable to care for the wild animal.

Take Action: Let the chairman and president of NBC Entertainment know of your displeasure with the show and that you will not watch it. Further let your friends, family, and colleagues know how these animals are really treated both on and off the set and urge them to avoid watching the show as well.

Robert Greenblatt, Chairman
Jennifer Salke, President
NBC Entertainment
NBCUniversal
100 Universal City Plaza
Universal City, CA 91608

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