The Forest Park Zoo (officially called The Zoo at Forest Park) is another very old facility which has been plagued with chronic mismanagement. It is still a privately-owned zoo but the director is an employee of the City of Springfield. Here are their USDA inspection records.
In January 2015, two monkeys died at the zoo. One of them, a baby marmoset, died after a fight with another monkey, while another monkey succumbed to cold after an overnight power outage shut off the heat to the primate building. The animal deaths were not reported for two months. When the zoo finally did report the deaths to the city, they changed their story, initially claiming that both monkeys were “seniors” who died of cold before admitting that one of them died in a fight (which the zoo downplayed as a “natural occurrence” not worth reporting). The animal deaths and poor communication were concerning enough to city officials that they held a meeting questioning the zoo’s ability to “have the resources available for the animals for their upkeep and well-being.” In June 2016, a monkey named Dizzy escaped the zoo after a distracted employee failed to lock the enclosure. He roamed the zoo grounds for 3 days before being safely recaptured.
PROMISED LAND ZOO BRANSON
Customer No: 329566
Certificate No: 43-C-0352
Branson’s Promised Land Zoo opened in 2013 as a sister park to Promised Land Zoo in Eagle Rock, MO. Both parks are for-profit businesses that are owned and operated by Jeff and Diane Sanders and their daughter, Laura Remenar, and her husband, Joshua Remenar. The facility boasts about allowing the public to handle baby dangerous animals, such as tigers, in what’s known as Pay To Play or cub handling. They are also buying and selling exotic animals as pets, for entertainment purposes, and for slaughter. They are the self-proclaimed “largest producer of African Caracals in the US.” Their various USDA licenses have accumulated violations for having no record of attending veterinarian visits, no veterinary care plan, no program of environment enhancement for non-human primates, animals with excessively long hooves, expired vaccines, failure to have a knowledgeable adequately trained employee responsible for big cats on public display, rodent feces present in feed storage building, failing to provide an adequate barrier between animals and the public, allowing their license to lapse, and failure to provide an adequate perimeter fence.
Photos of cub handling from their Facebook page
The Sanders, Remenars, and their many company names are also selling exotic animals on websites and social media under the name Eagle Rock Exotics. Eagle Rock Exotics sells “hoofstock, primates, cats and more” on ExoticAnimalsForSale.net. http://www.exoticanimalsforsale.net/animalbreeders/missouri-animal-breeders.asp.
Animals are sold into a variety of situations including allegedly being slaughtered for meat, the exotic pet trade, or performing animal companies. For example, there have been numerous situations of animals being sold online – sometimes even using Facebook (pictured).
One lemur was sold into the pet trade to Libby and Robert Brozovich in 2008. No USDA license is listed under Brozovich on the USDA website, and if the Brozovichs don’t have a license that means there are no federal inspectors visiting their primates to ensure they are being properly cared for.
Eventually the lemur sold to the Brozovichs was finally donated to a sanctuary. By that point the current owners claimed the lemur had at least five different owners they were aware of before it finally found a permanent home.
Another animal that was once owned by Promised Land Zoo was a sloth that later ended up with the Jeff Musial with Nickel City Reptiles and Exotics. Nickel City Reptiles uses animals as entertainment for TV shows, commercials, birthday parties and corporate events. Jeffrey Musial has been cited by the USDA for animal housing in disrepair, failure to keep a marmoset enclosure free of grime and debris, failing to maintain housing with an appropriate temperature after chinchillas were found in an aquarium in an 86 degree facility, failure to allow freedom of movement by housing two camels in 12×12 stall, failure to provide enough space for an African crested porcupine, and failure to maintain disposition and acquisition records on several animals.
One USDA inspection reported stated that “the facility does not have disposition records for the cavy’s, palm civet’s, and genets that were sold.” (These records are a USDA licensing requirement.) This exposes their participation in the sale of exotic animals and makes it impossible for the USDA to track the animals if no records are maintained.
A variety of business and personal names have been used by the Sanders and Remenars on different USDA licenses and many licenses have accumulated violations.
USDA Licenses and Violations:
Diane Sanders – 43-B-0311
Diane Sanders – 43-C-0245
Diane and Jeff Sanders – 43-C-0361
Promised Land Zoo – 43-C-0352
In March 2014, the facility was cited by the USDA for failure to have a knowledgable, adequately trained employee responsible for an adult lion and 7-week-old tiger cub during public exhibition.
FOIA request on Promised Land from 2014
When their license lapped with the USDA they continued to operate and be open to the public. (page 1)
Cited for not keeping a barrier between animals and the viewing public in 2013. (page 3)
Cited for “failure to provide adequate barriers between the animals and the general viewing public so as to assure the safety of the animals and the public”, “failure to maintain the housing facilities structurally sound, and maintained in good repair to protect animals from injury”, “failure to provide an adequate perimeter fence of sufficient height to keep animals and unauthorized persons out and to serve as a secondary containment” (page 10)
Citation for lack of trained handler mentioned by HSUS above (page 27)
Cub Handling Images are What Drives the Trade in Big Cats
No legitimate sanctuary or zoo allows public contact with exotic cats. These are a couple of cub handling photos and posts on social media, including taking cubs to chamber meetings and media stations of Branson’s Promised Land Zoo using cubs to attract attention to themselves.
Serval on a leash being touched by swarm of kids
BPLZ proclaiming they are “the largest producer of African Caracals in the US’
Conversation with a member of the public reporting that they raise their animals for meat and that animals don’t have rights.
Branson’s Promised Land Zoo Boasts of Baby Encounters
You have to ask why their mother cats all seem to reject their cubs?
March 1, 2014
“Our newest addition to the zoo is…a baby Bengal Tiger! His name is Bruce Lee and he’ll be on exhibit throughout the day here in Branson.”
March 3, 2013
“Jungle Josh and the Amazing Aubrey on KOLR 10 this afternoon at 4pm or channel 27 with Bruce the Bengal Tiger!”
March 4, 2014
“Baby Bengal Tiger revealed at Promised Land Zoo
A baby Bengal tiger was revealed to the public at Promised Land Zoo on Saturday morning, much to the delight of a fascinated audience, who reacted with lots of “oohs and ahhhs” and interesting questions. “He is very special to us,” said “Jungle Josh” Remenar, Animal Exhibitions Manager at Promised Land Zoos. “This is a baby Bengal tiger, and his name is Bruce Lee,” he said, as the tiger scurried out of a kennel and onto the stage. Remenar allowed spectators to come to the edge of the stage without touching the tiger. “For a lot of you, this is as close as you’ll ever be to a tiger,” he said. “He is only six weeks old.” Remenar then revealed more news that excited the crowd. “On March 12, when he is old enough, we are going to start what we call Tiger Time. You’ll be able to hold the tiger and get a picture. We haven’t ironed out the details, but you’ll be able to play with the tiger for a short time, and your whole family will be able to take a picture with him,” he said. The audience was full of interesting questions: Will he live here his whole life? How large will he become? Where are his parents? “His mom is in northern Missouri. She did not want Bruce,” he explained.
“The reason we are so proud of him is because tigers are going extinct very fast. There were originally nine sub-species of tigers. Three of them are now extinct completely, and one is extinct in the wild. Only in captivity are they alive. So that leaves five sub-species of tigers, and between all five sub-species, there’s less than 4,500 in the wild.” “We would like to get started on a breeding program and try to keep this species alive,” he added. According to Remenar, the tiger may get as large as 500 pounds, and within a couple of years, he will likely be moved to a larger facility. “When he is very large, he will probably go to our other park, which is 120 acres,” he said. Bruce Lee is now on exhibit at the zoo. The Branson Promised Land Zoo is home to many rare and endangered animals and features big cats, monkeys, kangaroos, camels, zebras, reptiles, birds and other species from around the world. The zoo offers a foot safari, live animal shows, parakeet paradise, and bottle feedings, all included in admission. Also new for 2014 is a show hosted by Jungle Josh where visitors can pet, and in some cases, feed their favorite animals while learning more about them. The Zoo also hosts “Exclusive Animal Encounters” that allow guests hold a baby monkey, or to pet rare animals like two-toed sloths or kangaroos, for an additional fee. Guests may sign up for one of these unique experiences when they check in, or by calling Laura Remenar at 417-342-4800. “Through interaction with some of the most exclusive animals on the planet, we are able to promote animal education and conservation of so many species that need our help,” she said. Each encounter comes with a tour of the nutrition center and meet-and-greet of the zoo show animals. More information and zoo hours is available online at plzoo.com. The zoo is located at 2751 Shepherd of the Hills Expressway.
— By Michael J. Frost
March 4, 2014
(shared by PLZ March 4, but posted by Laura Sanders March 3)
“Bruce prepping for his big TV debut. At kokr 10.”
March 5, 2014
“Jungle Josh, Buckaroo Brice and Bruce Lee the Baby Bengal Tiger on Power 96.5 today at 7am! Listen!! — in Springfield, MO.”
March 7, 2014
Now Booking Tiger Times with Bruce the Baby Bengal Tiger….
Jay Wohlert: Where did Bruce come from?
Branson’s Promised Land Zoo : Tiger Time starts March 12th! Sign up today and cross this off your bucket list! email@example.com
Branson’s Promised Land Zoo: His mother of course! He was born in state during one of our polar vortexes and his mother did not take him! Luckily, she was being monitored and Bruce was given a fighting chance! He’s now 7 weeks old and actually started eating solids just the other day.
Branson Chamber Facebook post February 11
“We enjoy visiting with our Chamber Members and today was no exception! Please meet our Chamber Member Sebastian an African Serval cat from Branson’s Promised Land ZOO!”
Posting by Laura Sanders-Remenar December 18, 2013
“African Serval kittens will be available for Exclusive Encounters beginning January 1st! Schedule your encounter now…limited availability. 417-337-9453”
Want to put an end to these cruel pay to play schemes? Take action at BigCatAct.com now!
Lagoon Amusement Park in Farmington, Utah has been intensely criticized for decades because of its dismal “Wild Kingdom Train” ride. The attraction, which Lagoon promotes as the “second-largest zoo in Utah”, features a miniature steam locomotive that runs past a collection of over 60 live exotic animals, including lions, tigers, cougars, leopards, and bears.
Little has changed about the ride since 1967, when it was first installed. Big cats are housed in barren, concrete-floored cages with no natural vegetation and very little stimulation or enrichment. These enclosures do not meet the bare minimum standards of accreditation by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). No educational information is provided other than small signs outside each cage displaying the name of each species. Children on the train frequently roar, scream, or throw things at the animals, and there are rumors of deliberate animal abuse by park employees. In one of these alleged incidents, a disgruntled train conductor deliberately blew hot steam into the face of a brown bear named Tippy, resulting in second degree facial burns.
Like many unregulated private zoos, Lagoon’s menagerie is inconsistent. Animals are both bred on-site and bought, sold, and traded with other private zoos and breeders (Lagoon claims that this is “rescuing animals”). This means that the origins and ultimate destination of the animals at Lagoon are unknown and untraceable. In the past, Lagoon has been cited by the USDA for disposing of unwanted animals by selling them to slaughter and for failing to maintain acquisition/disposition records.
Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune Riders view Siberian Tigers on the Wild Kingdom Train ride at Lagoon Amusement Park, Saturday, June 2 2012 in Layton. Protesters lined Lagoon Drive in Layton to protest Lagoon’s treatment of animals in the park as seen from the Wild Kingdom Train ride that circles a zoo where big cats, zebras, and other animals are confined to small enclosures.
Many visitors to Lagoon are unaware that the park houses live animals because much of the zoo is only visible from on board the train. Those who choose to visit the attraction are becoming increasingly upset about the outdated, prison-like environment that the animals are forced to live in, and there have been many petitions and protests attempting to convince the park to retire its animals to sanctuaries. The editorial board of the Standard-Examiner, Utah’s 3rd-largest newspaper, urged shutting down the zoo in a 2016 editorial, writing: “This is not 1967. We know better now — or at least we should.” The park continues to ignore these complaints by claiming that their zoo is “accredited” by the state and federal government; that “whether cages are too small is a subjective opinion;” and that their enclosures exceed USDA regulations. This is nothing to brag about, as the USDA only requires that enclosures provide enough space for the animal to stand up and turn around in.
The USDA has repeatedly cited Lagoon for failure to comply with the federal Animal Welfare Act. Recurrent problems found by inspectors included filthy enclosures, inadequately trained employees, failure to provide sick and dying animals with veterinary care, and repeat animal deaths. A summary of these citations is as follows:
July 10, 2012: According to the (Ogden, Utah) Standard-Examiner, the USDA cited Lagoon for having water bowls inside an elk pen that were encrusted with dirt and algae.
September 27, 2011: The USDA cited Lagoon for failure to provide two leopards with adequate veterinary care. In contradiction to its parasite-control program, the facility failed to retest the cats for parasitic infection after they tested positive for parasitic nematode worms and were given treatment.
September 27, 2006: The USDA cited Lagoon for failure to provide kangaroos with adequate veterinary care. The inspector wrote that “information on the health problem which led to the euthanasia of the adult female kangaroo on 7-22-06 has still not been conveyed to the kangaroo’s attending veterinarian.” The investigator added that such information was necessary to “ensure that the remaining kangaroos receive adequate care including any possible measures to prevent a reoccurrence.”
May 4, 2004: The USDA cited Lagoon for not correcting a previously identified violation for failure to provide adequate veterinary care. The inspector determined that animal “[h]ealth problems are not being detected, diagnosed and treated” and cited several examples. Both of a peccary’s eyes were “encrusted with amber colored material.” At various times, a camel was observed to have a lump on his face and an abscess and a lump on his lip, and there was no evidence that he had received treatment. Numerous animals were in need of hoof trimming, including a fallow deer whose hooves were “at least 4 inches long” and a peccary who had “overgrown front claws bilaterally that turned up on the tips.” A cougar, a camel, a fallow deer, and a peccary were observed limping. The inspector also wrote that health records were missing vital information. For example, there was no record of the dosage of a medication for an unidentified animal. Lagoon was also cited for failure to maintain facilities—the fencing for 12 bison was noted to contain protruding wires near ground level, one of which was approximately 10 inches long and formed a loop. The inspector expressed concern that the bison could “get a leg caught in loops of wire and potentially break a leg or injure themselves.” Lagoon was also cited for failure to provide a sufficient number of adequately trained employees.
The inspector wrote, “It is evident that the facility lacks employees and a supervisor who are adequately trained to maintain the professionally acceptable level of husbandry practices.” The inspector also wrote that despite being told by two USDA veterinarians that several animals’ hooves needed immediate attention, the supervisor didn’t agree that hoof care was needed. The inspector observed, “It appears that the facility does not understand the importance of proper hoof care in preventing lameness.” The inspector also noted, “The facility needs to evaluate whether they have appropriate facilities to provide safe handling conditions for the fallow deer when they provide the needed hoof trimming. … There have been anesthetic deaths and injuries (a fractured tibia and a ruptured tendon) from darting in the past when the fallow deer were worked without appropriate facilities.”
March 19, 2004: The USDA cited Lagoon for not correcting a previously identified violation for failure to provide adequate veterinary care. The zoo couldn’t produce documentation that the attending veterinarian had visited the site every two weeks, as prescribed by the program of veterinary care. It also couldn’t provide documentation of applicable and complete deworming treatments for hoofstock. Lagoon was also cited for failure to provide adequate drainage in a muntjac deer enclosure. It was observed to be covered in “muck ranging from 2 to 5 inches deep which exudes a strong excreta odor,” and the animals were forced to stand in the muck in order to reach the feeder in the enclosure. The inspector also wrote that Lagoon failed to provide 10 bison with water. The inspector also noted that the somewhat overgrown front toe of a fallow deer had been pointed out to a facility representative.
October 4, 2002: A USDA inspector noted that the evaluation of the deaths of a young zebra, a muntjac deer, and three Corsican sheep who died in late 2001 had not yet been completed and that two elk, four Corsican sheep, and one fallow deer would need more shelter space in the next two to three weeks.
July 6, 2001: In a letter to Lagoon, the USDA warned the facility that keepers must carefully observe newborns to ensure that they nurse. Lagoon was encouraged to develop a more effective husbandry program for neonatal animals following the deaths of a newborn elk calf and a fallow deer fawn.
April 19, 2001: The USDA cited Lagoon for not correcting a previously identified violation for failure to maintain records of acquisition and disposition. There were no disposition records for 11 fallow deer who were no longer at Lagoon and two buffalo who were sold to an individual for slaughter, as well as other animal transactions. The USDA also cited Lagoon for failure to provide elk with shelter from direct sunlight and inclement weather.
August 28, 2000: The USDA cited Lagoon for failure to maintain records of acquisition and disposition for animals who died or were born during the year.
July 20, 2000: The USDA cited Lagoon for failure to provide adequate veterinary care. A buffalo cow underwent surgery on May 2, 2000, to remove a rubber band which had been embedded around a toe. The animal didn’t receive sufficient follow-up care and developed an infection which resulted in the animal being euthanized. The inspector also found outdated medication and dirty needles used for injections. Lagoon was also cited for improper animal handling. The public had access to animals without the presence of a trained employee. The inspector also noted that necropsy reports for a fallow deer who had died and a stillborn elk were not available.
March 30, 2000: The USDA cited Lagoon for failure to comply with its veterinary-care program—a peccary hadn’t received testing or treatment for parasites. Lagoon was also cited for failure to provide complete information for two recently purchased camels. The inspector noted that a camel died on March 5, 2000, from peritonitis associated with a perforated ulcer and that the facility hadn’t provided its employees with outside training.
September 16, 1999: The USDA cited Lagoon for failure to provide the inspector with documentation addressing the problem of inadequately trained employees.
August 2, 1999: The USDA cited Lagoon for not correcting previously identified violations for failure to provide adequate veterinary care and employing inadequately trained staff. A camel exhibiting sweatiness and labored breathing was down for 12 hours and never received veterinary care. The animal died of peritonitis subsequent to a perforation in the digestive tract. The inspector also wrote that several elk remained thin, with protruding ribs. Nutritional supplements prescribed by the veterinarian weren’t being fed to the animals.
June 29 and 30, 1999: The USDA cited Lagoon for not correcting previously identified violations for failure to provide adequate veterinary care, for filthy enclosures, and for inadequately trained employees. A newborn fallow deer was never observed nursing and died 37 to 38 hours after birth. Several elk remained thin, with protruding ribs and hair loss. There was no record of deworming, routine tests for intestinal parasites, or vaccinations for the elk. The sheep enclosure had a high concentration of feces. The inspector directed Lagoon to conduct necropsies on any subsequent deaths to “facilitate herd health management and to assure adequate veterinary care.”
May 12, 1999: The USDA cited Lagoon for not correcting a previously identified violation for failure to provide adequate veterinary care. The male lion, Rhondo, died on April 18, 1999. A necropsy found complete bowel blockage. He had suffered from vomiting, weakness, shallow breathing, sticky feces, nasal discharge, a dry and matted coat, and thick, dry lips. He also couldn’t swallow medications. Employees failed to recognize the severity of his condition or accurately communicate his symptoms to the veterinarian.
April 8, 1999: The male lion identified as needing veterinary care during an April 2, 1999, inspection was suffering from anemia, arthritis, and abnormal kidney function. Lagoon was cited for repeatedly failing to develop a veterinary-care plan to address deficient capture and anesthesia procedures and the poor health of elk.
April 2, 1999: The USDA cited Lagoon for not correcting previously identified violations for improper feeding, filthy enclosures, and failure to provide adequate veterinary care. Lagoon failed to develop a veterinary-care plan to address deficient capture and anesthesia procedures and the poor health of elk. Lagoon was cited for failure to provide a lion with veterinary care. The inspector wrote that Rhondo “was thin to the point that the ribs and hip bones were prominent. He was weak and had difficulty walking or even standing. … He was observed retching for a period of time and then vomited at least a cup of yellow-green fluid .… His tongue appeared pale …. There were no [records] … indicating that the animal’s deteriorating condition has been noticed.” The inspector also noted that dead-animal disposal must comply with all applicable regulations.
February 8, 1999: The USDA cited Lagoon for failure to provide adequate veterinary care after four fallow deer died because of anesthetics or poor darting techniques employed during tranquilizer use. The facility also had outdated medication, and seven elk in “a very small pen” appeared thin and had rough hair coats. The inspector recommended routine necropsies because of a high death rate and unexplained deaths. Lagoon was also cited for feeding moldy hay, which can contain toxins, to camels, sheep, and deer and placing a mineral block on the ground where there was fecal contamination. Lagoon was again cited for failure to provide seven elk with sufficient space. A zebra and her 7-month-old baby as well as 16 Corsican sheep also weren’t provided with adequate space. Lagoon was cited a sixth time for filthy enclosures. The inspector wrote, “Excessively soiled bedding has been a chronic problem at this facility.”
October 16, 1997: The USDA cited Lagoon for inadequate drainage that caused elk to “stand in the muck” while eating, enclosures that were filthy with an excessive accumulation of waste, and failure to record the death of a cougar in its disposition records.
In August 1996, a 16-year-old girl who was working as a ticket-taker at the train ride was bitten by a cougar named Kumba after she stuck her arm inside the cage to pet him. The cougar clamped his jaws down on her forearm until a park security officer arrived and sprayed the cat with pepper spray. Per Utah state law, Kumba was later euthanized to test for rabies. No changes were made to the park’s caging and the employee was not fired as a result of the incident. http://www.deseretnews.com/article/506235/COUGAR-THAT-BIT-WORKER-AT-LAGOON-IS-EUTHANIZED.html
Here’s some media and articles that might be useful to archive on the site.
Lagoon Park Videos:
A video of the ride.
A good video made by an activist in 2012 that sums up concerns about the zoo.
Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune A Siberian Tiger as seen from the Wild Kingdom Train ride at Lagoon Amusement Park, Saturday, June 2 2012 in Layton. Protesters lined Lagoon Drive in Layton to protest Lagoon’s treatment of animals in the park as seen from the Wild Kingdom Train ride that circles a zoo where big cats, zebras, and other animals are confined to small enclosures.
This is the experience of one brave big cat lover, who asked to be referred to as SN, who lives in Karachi and went undercover at the Karachi Zoo in Pakistan on July 27, 2016 to find out what’s really going on there.
‘Death by negligence’ – these words are now nearly synonymous with the fates of the numerous animals unfortunate enough to call the Karachi Zoo their home.
Established in 1878 and originally called the Mahatma Ghandi Garden, it wasn’t until the independence of Pakistan, in 1947, that it was renamed the Karachi Zoo. Once the biggest attraction for people of all backgrounds in the city, to say that the zoo now is a shell of its former self would be a colossal understatement.
The Karachi Zoo as of August 2016 is still visited by millions of people every year. However, its reputation as a legitimate zoological institution is all but gone in the eyes of most that have had the misfortune of visiting it. The zoo today, is nothing short of a torture house that keeps its animals in a similar manner to that of prisoners of war.
In light of hearing recent news that one of the two Bengal tigers there, had died of ‘sudden kidney failure’ – a diagnosis that has no scientific credibility due to sheer impossibility of waking up one morning to find that a perfectly healthy kidney has failed – I took it upon myself to see the conditions of the animals in this zoo first-hand.
On the morning of the 27th of July 2016 – the day of my visit – getting inside this zoo was all too easy, despite it being located in a city where even shopping malls and certain stores have scanners as well as guards frisking visitors, to make sure no harmful items get into their premises. The effects of the lack of security were evident once inside the park; as it was unmistakably clear the zoo grounds were also being used for drug dealing and illegal prostitution.
The condition of the zoo was a rude shock to my system as soon as I stepped foot within the facility. The zoo, touted by many as being the pride of Karachi for the longest time, was now just a run down, dilapidated facility that was poorly maintained and lacked any form of sanitation. Litter, most probably belonging to previous visitors, lay sprawled across the walkways as if a carpet covering the cracked and paan-stained tarmac and the immediate smell was that of filth and animal waste, which made it agonizing to even breathe. (Paan is a chewable preparation of areca nuts with betel leaves that produces foul smelling, red coloured saliva, which is usually spit out. In most cases, due to a general lack of civil sense in the public, this means spitting on public property like roads and footpaths). There was also an abundance of empty alcohol bottles (a substance that is banned here, seeing that Pakistan is an Islamic country) and syringes lying under trees and in the corners near empty exhibits. This first impression by the Karachi Zoo made it immediately apparent that I was not about to encounter the best cared for animals, to say the very least.
Upon voicing my difficulty to a zoo keeper regarding my inability to get clear photographs from behind the visitor barricades, which surrounded the thick iron bars on the many cages, I was referred to see the Chief Security Officer, Mr Suleman Sajjad Hussain.
Knowing that I would most definitely not be given permission to get closer to the animals as a regular visitor looking to highlight the true horrors of the establishment, I took an incredibly risky gamble and pretended to be a newly recruited journalist for a local newspaper on assignment at the zoo. In Mr. Sajjad’s office, after what felt like a few hours of sheer inner-panic and nail-biting anxiety during which I wasn’t sure what the outcome would be, Mr Sajjad agreed to take me behind the visitor barricades. I was shocked that my lie and improvisation had paid off but it was at this point, that I was in a hurry to get the images I needed and leave as soon as I could before anyone found out my real identity. What I was doing was immensely unwise, knowing the people I was dealing with.
Right away I was taken to the big cat exhibits, which are the centerpiece of the zoo as they draw the largest crowds. The condition of what I refuse to call these ‘exhibits’ was absolutely appalling. The majority of the cages were nothing but unhygienic concrete and iron rooms, devoid of any forms of animal enrichment or natural features such as plants, bedding, water features, toys or even rocks to ease the animals being housed in them. Their lone female Bengal tiger who was nothing but skin and bones, lay absolutely motionless on her ‘bed’ – which was just a rusted metal slab fitted into a wall. Upon some questioning, I learnt that the animals were only being fed at the most, three times a week due to budget constraints from the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) – who own the zoo and are in charge of municipal services in Karachi.
The lack of feeding was the most probable explanation for the incredibly weak physical state the big cats were in. The cage itself had not been cleaned in what appeared to be weeks as she, along with the many other big cats at the zoo were living in their own excrement, since the concrete floors would not allow for the waste to seep through unlike if it were on grass or dirt. There was not a single source of clean drinking water available to her and that, alongside the sweltering heat of Karachi, did not give me a bright outlook for her future at the zoo.
A guard in charge of operating the cage doors added that the zoo had two Bengal tigers till just two weeks before my visit, when their male, by the name of Alex, died of ‘sudden kidney failure’ at just sixteen years of age. It was this very death that had sparked my curiosity to see what was really going on behind the scenes. Upon asking the zoo officials I was with during my visit about the reason for Alex’s death, all claimed that he had already exceeded his life expectancy as a Bengal tiger and that tigers only to live to be about twelve. Mr Sajjad added that animals live for a much shorter period of time in captivity as compared to the wild and informed me that Mr Muhammad Faheem Khan, the director of the Karachi zoo had already submitted a tender for a new male Bengal tiger to the KMC. It was as if they were indifferent to the death of their tiger who, for them, was nothing more than just a moneymaking machine.
Being a medical student, biology is by no means a subject I find difficult to comprehend, and being as passionate about animals as I am, I knew the reasons given to me for Alex’s death were a sign of sheer negligence on the zoo’s part, along with a blatant denial to accept their mistakes. If one does a quick web search, it is very easy to see that tigers can live for up to twenty-six years in captivity and it doesn’t take much more than basic common sense to know that an animal lives much longer in captivity than it does in the wild, where they receive no veterinary care and protection from predators, poachers and, at times, the unforgiving weather conditions. Animals also fare much better in captivity due to an abundance of food and clean drinking water, which is not always readily available in their respective wild habitats.
Alex’s death is not the first case of an animal dying due to the zoo’s questionable ways of caring for their animals and their overall negligence, which I had now experienced first-hand. I learned that within the last five years alone (2011-2016), numerous animals have either died or gone missing at the zoo.
On the 6th of August, 2011, four lion cubs were born in the Karachi Zoo. However, just six days later, on the 12th of August, three of the four cubs were found dead in their enclosure while the fourth went missing. According to numerous zoo sources, the reasoning for why the lion cubs died was very conflicting. Some claimed that the cubs drowned in their enclosure after a night of heavy rain, while others claimed that due to the lack of space in the exhibit, their mother had trampled on them when moving around. Their bodies were sent to the Dow University of Health Sciences for individual autopsies. However, the results of these post-mortems were never published for the public to see. Meanwhile the reasoning for the cub that went missing was never fully explained and remains a mystery to this day, with the director of the zoo at the time claiming that it was eaten by the mother – the zoo’s go to excuse for cases like these.
Even if we are to take the word of the zoo, despite the highly unlikely reasons provided for the death of the three cubs and the one that went missing, it is very easy to see that the zoo is still at fault. If the cubs did indeed drown because of heavy rainfall, why were necessary precautions not taken to make sure the cubs were safe during the rainstorm? Why was there no adequate shelter and roofing provided to the cage housing the lions if there was a chance of flooding? Why were no drains installed? Also, if the mother did indeed trample on her own cubs, why is the zoo continuing to bring in more animals, if there is a very obvious lack of space due to budget constraints?
The cubs were born to two African lions, Sarah and Alfred, who had been bought by an individual by the name of Irfan Ahmed in Karachi. The two lions were seized at the airport by customs authorities claiming that import of big cats was illegal in the country and that the cats were now the property of the Karachi Zoo.
According to a report, Irfan Ahmed claimed that the missing lion cub was most probably sold in the black market by the zoo for a profit. There were numerous instances during my visit as well where it was implied to me that the zoo was buying from and selling animals to the black markets of the world and thus, supporting the illegal wildlife trade.
A case that seems to add to the evidence suggesting this was of three jackal pups that went missing only a day after their birth in April 2012. This was not the first time an instance like this had been reported at the zoo and yet again, the director of zoo operations at the time, Mr Bashir Saddozai claimed that their mother had eaten the pups.
Apart from the fact that this was the same excuse used for the missing lion cub the year before (August 2011), it was highly unlikely that the mother ate all three jackal pups overnight. Mr Bashir also added that his staff running the zoo had minimal knowledge on animal husbandry and were not qualified for their jobs as zookeepers and that this may have been an accident on their part. Once again there were numerous rumors to suggest that the jackal pups had been sold for a profit as no further investigation was launched into the matter by the zoo.
In August of 2012, the KMC, who own the zoo, spent over ten million rupees (around ten thousand US dollars) on acquiring a pair of white lions from a private collector. However, they claimed that despite the frequent expensive purchases of new wildlife (as is also the case in 2016 for Alex, the Bengal tiger’s replacement) they do not have sufficient funds to invest into the zoo. When I had asked Mr Sajjad about the lack of funds for the zoo during my visit, all the blame was put on the KMC not setting aside enough capital for animal welfare and staff training. The zoo currently earns well over forty-five million rupees (around forty five thousand US dollars) a year. However one would be hard pressed to believe that were the case when looking at the state of the zoo as well as the animals and exhibits in it.
Just in 2016 alone there have been an incredible number of deaths and missing animals at the zoo. In June 2016 three mountain lion cubs were born in the zoo of which two died just weeks after birth to neglect and malnutrition. Just a month later in July, the last remaining puma cub disappeared mysteriously and yet again, as per the standard protocol at the zoo, the father of the cub was blamed for the missing body. Not only does this raise eyebrows and suggest that there may be illegal deals being struck regarding the sale of exotic wildlife from the zoo to individuals in the public or other parts of the world, but if indeed we are to give the zoo the benefit of the doubt, it would suggest that the animals are so starved that they are repeatedly willing to eat their own cubs in one sitting. The very same month (July 2016), the zoo also lost their three-year-old Bactrian camel (a species cited as being critically endangered on the IUCN red list) to malnutrition and infections.
In April 2016, the zoo lost five black bucks, which had been taken from the wild, to a pack of stray dogs that managed to break into their exhibit. The zoo was questioned on their lack of care and information regarding the safety features on their cages and exhibits and their response was that they did not have enough funds to build better cages and that they were doing the best with what the had. In a similar fashion to this incident, the zoo also lost their black bear who was stoned to death in her own exhibit by the visitors who would throw rocks and bottle caps at her in order to get her to move. The zoo, however, did not even once try to do anything about this issue such as replacing the cage bars with glass walls or by enforcing stricter security measures to remove such visitors from their grounds.
Just last month as well (June 2016), the zoo hosted a magic show for children in which the host magician killed over a hundred wild caught snakes in just five days. The magician, who went by the name of ‘Talib’ bit the snakes on their head, skinned them alive and drank their blood straight from their mutilated bodies in front of a crowd consisting mainly of children and families. According to a report by a local newspaper, DAWN News, Talib was not stopped by the zoo during his performances, with the zoo director Muhammad Faheem Khan even supporting him and saying that it was just for the entertainment of the visitors and would only last a few days. Unfortunately, the current wildlife ordinance of 1972 in Sindh, Pakistan doesn’t offer protection status to snakes, lizards or frogs and doesn’t have any bill covering the issue of animal cruelty.
On the last stop during my visit, at the elephant exhibit, I learnt that the African elephants at the zoo were caught from the wild in Tanzania as newborns eleven years ago (2005) after being removed from their mothers. I was also outraged to learn that they have been living in the same cages their entire lives. The cages, barely eight meters by ten meters in size, were big enough only for the elephants to take two steps in either direction and for them to turn around. They showed severe signs of distress such as pacing around their cages, and showed a great deal of bruising and swelling on their bodies – probably from the physical abuse used when trying to ‘train’ them. Their front two legs were also deformed due to the numerous years they spent being chained in solitary confinement, a practice that is condemned by the American Association of Zoos. The elephants also lacked tusks and when asking the elephant tamer about the lack of these tusks, he replied saying that they keep falling off – which can only mean that they are being denied proper veterinary and dental care, or, the more likely explanation being that the tusks are being constantly sawed off and sold for ivory.
Before preparing to leave the zoo, after feeling that I was beginning to push my luck a little too much, I asked Mr Sajjad where the animals in the zoo were being bought from. He responded saying that there is a contractor in South Africa who arranges for the ‘black animals that are needed.’ The name and details of this contractor were not provided to me and it is only likely that he does not have the most ethical or legal ways of obtaining these animals. When asked about his opinion on private big cat ownership in Pakistan and how numerous pet stores (which are the only ways of obtaining these big cats without permits) have a hand in the illegal wildlife trade, Mr Sajjad responded saying that the animals in stores are sold for too much and that he’d be willing to sell someone a tiger for a much cheaper price.
The Karachi zoo is in dire need of being shut down. Zoos like these should not be allowed to operate because they contribute more to the destruction of wildlife and the bio diverse ecosystems around the world, than they do to help them. The Karachi Zoo is a fine example of how numerous zoos around the world use the illusion of conservation to profit off of the distress of the very same animals they swear to protect. It is evident that the Karachi zoo is involved in the illegal selling and buying of wild animals to and from the black markets of not just Pakistan, but the rest of the world, and that it is far more worried about making a large profit than it is about educating the public on the importance of the species they exhibit.
I, as an individual, am very limited in my ability to do much to change the situation. However, I feel that the more the truth about this horrific torture house is spread, and the greater the international awareness it gets, our chances of rescuing these animals and putting an end to places that exploit life for money also increase drastically.
This story is being written so that a lion named Pharaoh’s death will not be in vain like so many other animals at Tiger Safari in Tuttle, Oklahoma. They died at the hands of Bill Meadows the owner of Tiger Safari. Recently, other than Pharaoh, a White Tiger named Maximus, a Golden Tabby Tiger named Sarabi, and a Lynx named Baktan all died tragically. I managed Tiger Safari last year for 7 months and was their primary caretaker. Bill refuses vet care to all his animals until the USDA steps in. This kind of negligence has been going on for years according to USDA Inspection Reports that are public record. Some of the abuse that I and the USDA has seen is documented on these reports.
Pharaoh died February 26th, 2016. It was another case of Bill Meadows refusing vet care, malnourishment, and neglect. Pharaoh was born in 2001 (15 years old). Lions can live in captivity for 20 years old with optimal care. Multiple customers saw the malnourished lion had a bloody nose and reported it to the owner Bill Meadows weeks before Pharaoh’s death. Bill refused him veterinary care and did not call a vet until Pharaoh was in the terrible condition seen below and could stand.
Pharaoh Lion Feb 25, 2016
Pharaoh was severely emaciated and malnourished at the time he died. He has not been sick in the past year until Bill starved and neglected him. These are pictures of Pharaoh, the one on the right is the picture taken the night before Pharaoh died. I sent it to the media, USDA, and Sheriff. After complaints I made to the USDA inspectors, Sheriff, and 2 media stations they all showed up at once to Tiger Safari to question Bill about the circumstance surrounding Pharaoh’s death.
The oppositionists like Bill Meadows, Joe Schreibvogal (GW Exotic), and Tiger Safari’s vet Dr. Patti Maness say that Pharaoh was about 18 and just old and sick. This is not true. Pharaoh was 15 years old and that is shown on the Tiger Safari website at http://www.tigersafari.us/animal_view.asp?animalID=9 that says “Lifespan: 15 years in the wild, 24 years in captivity. Pharaoh was born around 2001.” The USDA Inventory records for Tiger Safari has the same information about Pharaoh’s real age. If he was 15, like the Tiger Safari website and animal inventory claim, Pharaoh should still have quite a bit of life left since lions can live to be 20 years old in captivity. Bill and his vet Dr. Patti Maness are claiming Pharaoh was ridiculously old and sick which was not the case. Pharaoh didn’t get sick until Bill Meadows starved him.
I use to have a ton of respect for Dr. Maness before this happened, it is very disappointing. The point here is NOT that Pharaoh was old or sick; the point is that Bill let Pharaoh get to the position where he was suffering for a long time and literally starving to death. That is negligence which the USDA does not allow and that is why I made complaints to the USDA on February 22nd, 2016 and February 25th, 2016. My motive was to get help for Pharaoh after Bill refused him vet care for a couple weeks before he finally died.
According to the USDA records they hadn’t seen Pharaoh since their inspection in January and that is around the time he got sick and started losing all that weight. I think the USDA inspectors do a great job but they can’t be there all the time to see everything. Just like any other large federal agency. Sometimes the USDA does not have the resources to inspect every month and it ends up sometimes being three months before they can go to tiger Safari. Which is enough time for things like this to happen without them seeing the violation. If they don’t see it they can’t cite Bill for it and he is great at getting rid of evidence as well as infamous for lying to the USDA to cover his many indiscretions’.
If Pharaoh lost that much weight in that short period of time it means he was sick. Bill should have called a vet when Pharaoh stopped eating but didn’t. He didn’t call a vet until Pharaoh was so malnourished he couldn’t stand. Then Bill finally had him looked at by a vet, Dr. Patti Maness. Dr. Maness claimed she was treating Pharaoh at some point in the past but did not disclose that it had not been since 2009 when Pharaoh healed from his massive bacterial infection. Their negligence can be proven by looking at the vet records and the necropsy, which the USDA will do.
If a vet saw Pharaoh before Feb. 22nd like Dr. Maness and Bill are insinuating, there should be records. If not it just proves they were lying. The first complaint I made was on February 22nd, 2016 about how Pharaoh was refused vet care for weeks. Pharaoh wasn’t eating for a long time. When a body is in that condition, it is deprived of nutrients, the body can’t function correctly, and pain is inevitable. The necropsy report will be in soon for the USDA to look at.
I could compare this situation to a house cat. If your cat looked like Pharaoh did in the picture the night before his death would you let them lay there and suffer while they slowly starved to death? It is our responsibility as pet owners to make sure that doesn’t happen, but Bill obviously doesn’t agree. Bill let Pharaoh get so emaciated that he was not able to stand up and all of his bones were sticking out of his body instead of euthanizing. Euthanasia exists so pet owners don’t prolong an animal’s pain. If Pharaoh was starving, untreatable, in pain, and as old as they claim why didn’t Bill and Dr. Patty Maness help Pharaoh before he got so emaciated?
Maximus died February 3, 2016. He choked on something he wasn’t supposed to have and slowly asphyxiated until he died. Maximus was about 3-4 years old and his species usually live 16-20 years in captivity. Maximus was the cub featured in the HSUS Tiger Safari Undercover Investigation video.
Sarabi died September 6th, 2015 when she was around 3-4 years old. It was another case of improper diet, refusing vet care, malnourishment, and neglect. Sarabi’s species usually live 16-20 years in captivity. The image below is from the October 22nd, 2015 USDA Inspection Report on Sarabi’s death.
Baktan, a Lynx, was born May 14th, 2013 and died around January 1st of 2015. He was only about 2 years old when he died and they can live up to 21 years in captivity. I only took care of Baktan for about a month before he died. When I found him it looked like he had a seizure in the middle of the night. The necropsy said they only found some bleeding in the lining of his liver, but Dr. Maness did not check the brain where they would find the evidence of a seizure. It was yet another case of malnourishment and neglect by Bill Meadows.
Baktan died so young because Bill deprived him of a proper diet during development and throughout his life. Less than a year before Baktan died, he had a brush with death because Bill once again waited too long (neglected) to call a vet for help. Baktan had begun to show signs of severe neurological symptoms including running headfirst into everything when he tried to walk and drooling. Bill waited weeks again to call a vet that time, and that is why he almost died then. The USDA is aware of this as well.
Bill has been cited multiple time for the terrible diet he feeds his carnivores, especially his Big Cats. The USDA called the diet Bill fed them a type of “McDonald’s diet”. I can verify that the only meat Bill would bring me to feed the carnivores was ground beef, marinated or seasoned steak and chicken, regular chicken breasts, and fatty cutlet scraps from a meat processer in that area. Carnivores, especially tigers and lions, need a lot of calcium they get through eating bones. The meat Bill gave me to feed had almost no bones every day. This leads to malnourishment, neurological dysfunction, and severe medical issues throughout their lives and they die young.
I sent the photo into the news stations but I am not affiliated with any animal rights organizations. I did it because it was the right thing to do. Humans who own caged pets have an obligation to not let them suffer like Pharaoh did. I reported the neglect as I saw it when I worked at Tiger Safari. I would beg Bill Meadows to do the right thing & get the animals vet care when they needed it before I made any USDA complaints. The USDA confirmed the neglect I saw.
I wanted to get my story out so people can make an informed decision on Tiger Safari. It is their right to know who they are giving their money to and can chose not to support his abuse. Carole Baskin, the founder and CEO of Big Cat Rescue, helped me do this in an interview and webpage that can be seen on this page. You can also find Bill Meadows inspection reports and evidence of other cases where he refused sick animals vet care on this link.
More can be read at about what Maximus and Sarabi’s very unfortunate life at Tiger Safari.
Feb 26, 2016 Pharoah the lion dies at Tiger Safari amid complaints from those who worked there that the cat was malnourished. News reports state that this is the third big cat to die there in the last year.
Witnesses tell us that “APHIS has talked to Bill Meadows a couple times for the rust on Koda the grizzly bears cage. APHIS inspection report on 1-7-2015 page 9 (about middle of page) they write him up for a repeat offense for the rust on Koda’s cage. Koda is pushing on the north side of the enclosure in the video. APHIS mentioned on the report “excessive rust on north side of enclosure”. That video was taken around the end on 4/2015. This is what they said on the 1-7-2015 report:”
**WARNING explicit language and graphic images are used in the video.**
TIGER SAFARI VIDEO
Whistleblower Report. Name withheld:
I had called our APHIS inspector to make an emergency complaint about this fennec fox and Smokey the black bear on 5-8-2015 (when Bill locked Smokey in his house for 36 hours without water after “Tigernado”). That was what I was fired for. Our APHIS inspector came out that day and wrote Bill up and I was told by Bill that it was sent to the regional office.
The fennec fox was in the USDA-APHIS Inspection Report 5-8-2015. I took pictures and recorded him when I asked him a couple of times to at least go check on the fennec fox to get her vet help and he refused.
Smokey had a penile infection and his nails were growing into his pad during the 5-8-2015 inspection. At the same time APHIS called Bill to say they were coming on 5-8-2015, Joe Schreibvogel, from GW Zoo was on his way to pick Smokey up for temporary housing and had to cancel. Bill Meadows told Joe Schreibvogel not to come because APHIS was on their way to Tiger Safari at the same time to look at Smokey. Joe was coming to get the bear since a pavilion fell on the front portion of his cage the night of “Tigernado”. The damage is also why Smokey was locked in his house without water for 36 hours. I tried to get him a hose to drink from but he wouldn’t. Joe was only holding Smokey until it was fixed.
It was kind of funny because at the same time, I think, Joe and Bill actually got Smokey to GW Zoo, OSHA was there investigating a complaint about their bear enclosures being unsafe. Joe picked Smokey up I believe on May 10th, 2015, and he got back June 3rd, 2015.
I had made a formal complaint about Smokey around a month earlier, on 4/15/2015 after Dr. Weiss’s visit on 4/14/2015. Dr. Weiss just looked at Smokey from the outside of the cage, and said she saw nothing wrong, he had no infection, and nothing wrong with his front claws. The fact that Smokey was not going to get any help from this vet, along with him being locked in his house with no access to water for 36 hours prompted me to make an emergency complaint to APHIS on 5-8-2015
TUTTLE, Okla. – In an undercover investigation into Tuttle’s Tiger Safari, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) alleges mishandling, even abuse, of tiger cubs.
Behind-the-scenes footage is raising serious questions about the treatment of these exotic animals.
The owner of Tiger Safari, Bill Meadows, says he is not abusing his animals and says the HSUS is using the allegations as propaganda. He tells us the video is edited to misrepresent his zoo.
However, the HSUS says their investigation took place from May to September of 2014 and they documented exactly what they witnessed.
The HSUS says the 63-day investigation was centered on a white tiger cub named Maximus. A HSUS employee worked at the park as an intern to capture undercover footage.
The organization claims the cub was taken from his mother too soon after birth and forced to spend hours a day being handled by or photographed with dozens of people.
When Maximus was not cooperating, HSUS claims the cub was smacked, dragged and sometimes suspended by his legs and tail.
“This really was to document, like I said, never before footage of really what happens behind the scenes of these places. What we found was horrific. We knew it was bad, but we had no idea about how bad it actually was,” Nicole Paquette, with HSUS, said.
Meadows told us on the phone that the popping in the nose is to train the cubs not to bite. As for video of him dragging the cub on a leash, Meadows says he did not mean to drag the cub and stopped when he realized what he was doing.
We know the United States Department of Agriculture conducts regular inspections at Tiger Safari. HSUS says they caught Meadows saying this to his employees.
“When the USDA comes out here on Wednesday I’m giving you a fair warning you don’t say a ******* thing to them. Period.”
Meadows tells us he did not want new workers to give out misinformation.
HSUS also claims animals at Tiger Safari do not receive proper care and nutrition, but Meadows invites anyone to visit the zoo. He says visitors will see that the animals are well-cared for.
For the full report of HSUS’s investigation and the full version of the undercover video released to the public visit…
**WARNING explicit language is used in the video.**