Mark Schoebel Timbavati Wildlife Park AKA Animal Entertainments Inc and FKA R-Zoo
All three licenses are listed as being at this same address: W 583 EAGLE RD NESHKORO, WI 54960
|Legal Name (DBA):||
|Status Date:||Jan 2, 1960|
2019 Census under Alice Schoebel’s new USDA license numbers of 35-B-0222 and 35-C-0367
1 Snow leopard
3 Clouded Leopards
and assorted other animals.
There does not appear to have been an inspection between 4/30/2019 and 2/4/2022 for 35-B-0033 and 35-B-0222 but there are reports for 35-C-0367 (Exhibition Permit) which appear to include the same animals listed on the Breeder’s Permits.
2021 Census under Alice Schoebel’s USDA License 35-C-0367
2 Clouded Leopards
6 Sand cats
A total of 403 wild animals.
I thought the Schoebel family was done after pleading guilty to wildlife trafficking in 1986 and then after being connected to Operation Snow Plow. Once Wisconsin Dells stopped offering cub petting at the mall, we thought it was finally over.
Then in February of 2022 we learned from Roadside Zoo News that Alice had testified at a state legislative hearing on SB 347/AB 341, a Wisconsin “roadside zoo bill” that would weaken regulations on exotic animals at U.S. Department of Agriculture Class C licensed facilities and would remove state oversight at his facilities. When I watched the Senate hearing on the bill, I was aghast to hear a Senator, who was apparently on the board of the Racine Zoo previously, say that he knew for a fact that if USDA found cobwebs in the corner of an exhibit and it wasn’t fixed immediately, “your license is gone.”
Later a woman associated with Wildwood Wildlife Park Zoo, also falsely stated that if you have any citation by USDA you can’t be open again until you are in compliance.
I only wish USDA were so effective!
USDA Citations Against Timbavati Wildlife Park and the Schoebels
2011 Census of Timbavati Wildlife Park aka R-Zoo
|1||AARDVARK||ALL OTHER COVERED SPECIE|
|1||AMERICAN BISON||ALL OTHER COVERED SPECIE|
|17||BLACK MUNTJAC||ALL OTHER COVERED SPECIE|
|1||BROWN FOREST WALLABY||ALL OTHER COVERED SPECIE|
|9||COMMON BROWN LEMUR||ALL OTHER COVERED SPECIE|
|2||COMMON ZEBRA||ALL OTHER COVERED SPECIE|
|7||DOMESTIC BACTRIAN CAMEL||ALL OTHER COVERED SPECIE|
|1||GIANT ANTEATER||ALL OTHER COVERED SPECIE|
|3||GIRAFFE||ALL OTHER COVERED SPECIE|
|1||HOFFMANNS TWO-TOED SLOTH||ALL OTHER COVERED SPECIE|
|4||NORTH AMERICAN PORCUPINE||ALL OTHER COVERED SPECIE|
|4||RED FOX||ALL OTHER COVERED SPECIE|
|5||RED KANGAROO||ALL OTHER COVERED SPECIE|
|1||SOUTHERN LONG-NOSED ARMADILLO||ALL OTHER COVERED SPECIE|
|2||SPOTTED HYENA||ALL OTHER COVERED SPECIE|
|1||STRIPED SKUNK||ALL OTHER COVERED SPECIE|
|8||COMMON MARMOSET||NONHUMAN PRIMATES|
|10||SQUIRREL MONKEY||NONHUMAN PRIMATES|
|11||GOAT||OTHER FARM ANIMALS|
Mark Schoebel plead guilty to several wildlife trafficking offenses in 1986, the worst being trafficking bears for their gallbladders. He would apparently breed the bears, use them for petting/photos, then sell them to a friend who killed and dismembered them before shipping the carcasses to Korea, where the gall baldder was used as a “medicinal” remedy. His plea agreement for that case starts on page 5 of this pdf. wi-markschoebel2001
We believe he paid a fine and was put on probation as punishment for the charges.
He also sold tigers to Kapp and Lantz of Operation Snowplow infamy, but wasn’t charged in that investigation because he claimed that he didn’t know the buyers planned on killing the cats. Which may be true, but given his previous history, you have to wonder if he actually “didn’t know”, or if he would have even cared.
The following is an excerpt from Stewart Metz, M.D. email@example.com on VegSource.com
Let’s look at the facts. Schoebel has been an animal “broker” for decades, trading or selling animals (some exotic, rare, and highly endangered) between individuals and between organizations including zoos. He has also provided animals for canned hunts. A “canned hunt” is essentially a cowardly form of animal assassination; animals are hunted not in the wild but in restricted areas where hunters can be virtually guaranteed a “kill”. No kill, no pay! Note that the American Zoo and Aquarium Association (with which the Irvine Park Zoo is, not surprisingly, unaffiliated) specifically states that “animals shall not be disposed of to organizations…that allow the hunting of these animals or their offspring” (AZA Acquisition/Disposition Policy). Yes, indeed, Mr. Schoebel “takes care” of his animals!
The rap sheet of alleged offences committed by Schoebel is as long as my arm. Much of it is documented in Alan Green’s highly acclaimed book Animal Underworld: Inside America’s Black Market in Rare and Exotic Species, winner (in 1999) of the award for best investigative book from the National Conference of Investigative Reporters and Editors. Astonishingly, Schoebel is mentioned at least 13 times in that book. More outrageous is the alleged “cozy” relationship between Schoebel and the Irvine Park Zoo! To quote Green (pp. xxii-xxiii):
“For as long as anyone can remember,the Irvine Park Zoo in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin has a curious relationship with Mark Schoebel…Babies are born at the small municipal zoo…No one but Schoebel seems to know where the animals go when he takes them away. For years city officials would not say….City officials have been reluctant to Discuss the matter publicly. Members of the local zoological society once requested documents that might have exposed the exact nature of the arrangement but the parks and recreation department [ie, Flaherty’s department] at first stonewalled and then imposed search and copying fees so high they put the documents out of reach. What’s more, the zookeepers were ordered to not discuss Schoebel’s activities with anyone….Wisconsin zoos actually protect Schoebel, a state wildlife official says.”
The stench of a possible cover-up seems to be beginning to waft and may well help to explain why everyone involved in the case of these parrots is not talking–or explaining!
So what offences has Schoebel committed, or been alleged to commit, that are so repugnant? Well, among them is the following:
In 1986, he was accused of using his infamous “R-Zoo” to illegally transport bears and other wildlife across state lines (Green, p. xv).
“Evidence gathered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service revealed that Schoebel had supplied bears to the owner of an Illinois game farm who was charged with shooting the animals, dismembering and decapitating them, packing the carcasses in dry ice and shipping them…to Korea, where the gall bladders are used…Federal agents uncovered evidence that two dozen bears had also been sent from R-Zoo to Korea via a California broker…and turned up receipts showing the sale of yet-more bears to an exotic-meat dealer. ..Schoebel pleaded guilty to four counts of wildlife infractions and in return received a fine and four years probation.”
Yet still, the Irvine Park Zoo continues to do business with this convicted animal trafficker. What ever happened to the mission of zoos to show dignity to animals, help to conserve them, in a selfless way? This zoo ought to be ashamed of dealing with a convicted, insensitive, self-promoting individual.
What else do we know about Schoebel? According to Green (p. 65), Schoebel supplied animals to Thomas Nichols, a Georgia dealer sentenced to a year in jail for illegal trafficking in animals. He also sells animals at auction (Green, p. 151), which shows no more concern about the animals’ special needs and their fate than does the transfer of the African Grey Parrots to Schoebel’s “care”. Once again, note that selling at auction violates the standards set by the American Zoo and Aquarium Association: “Animals shall not be disposed of at animal auctions.”
Worse still, epidemiologists traced infected prairie dogs to Schoebel. These rodents carried tularemia, a human disease which can cause paralysis or death. Even after he promised not to make any more shipments, Schoebel allegedly (Green, p. 190) sent shipments to Vanderbilt University and two animal dealers, thereby putting more human lives at risk.
But the alleged offenses do not stop there. In an article by Steve Barney (an animal advocacy group), on July 12, 1999, approximately 15 sooty mangabey monkeys died at Soebel’s R-Zoo in Neshkoro, WI, allegedly of electrocution. Mangabeys are protected as an endangered species under international law (including strict regulations on trade). Like African Grey parrots, mangabeys are very social animals.
Assuming that this story is true, how can the Irvine Park Zoo possibly justify doing “business” with such an unscrupulous broker who flaunts violations of the very protection of endangered species which zoos are supposed to vouchsafe? The answer appears to be that they can’t, and that may be why lips are sealed.
More about R-Zoo
- R Zoo was owned by Mark Schoebel and is now owned by his wife Alice and possibly their son.
- Evidence was gathered by US Fish & Wildlife that revealed Schoebel supplied bears to the owners of an IL game farm who were charged with shooting the animals, dismembering, and decapitating them. They would pack the carcasses in dry ice and shipped via NY to Korea.
- Every year he would farm out the babies to Reston Animal Park which led to the Zoos (AZA and others) for their crowd pleasing babies for the visitors to see.
- He had a relationship with the Irvine Park Zoo in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin.
- Schoebel would arrive at the Irvine Park Zoo to pick up some of the babies of the adults that he had on loan to this Zoo.
- The US Fish and Wildlife declared for a 2 yr period R Zoo bought 74 bears but sold 132. Where did the other 58 bears come from.
- Schoebel also owned a fur farm.
- Schoebel contributed to can shoots whereas the animals are put in a 5 acre pen, hunted and killed.
- Schoebel took delivery of 1400 prairie dogs which he sent to pet stores and Medical research labs.
- He claimed he had 8,000 baby animals for sale.
- He worked with the Racine Zoo and Duluth’s Lake Superior Zoo which are both AZA Zoos.
- The Wisconsin Zoo protected Schoebel because he would take their aging, unwanted surplus of animals.
Timbavati to replace Riverview Park.
The Timbavati Wildlife Park is moving from Storybook Gardens in Lake Delton to Riverview Park in Wisconsin Dells.
The park, run by Mark Schoebel, will take over some of the Riverview site, except the go-kart tracks and candy store. The Wisconsin Dells City Plan Commission, Wednesday, approved a conditional use permit for Schoebel, who is leasing about 25 acres of the 60-acre park to house animal displays. The motion to approve the conditional use permit passed unanimously, and it goes to council for its approval Monday.
The commission received an e-mail from Inna Larsen, who signed the e-mail, “volunteer with Dane Co Friends of Ferals and Dane Co Humane Society and domestic cat owner.” Larsen asked the commission not to approve the permit, accusing Schoebel of “various violations of animal import and care.” She also said in the e-mail, “We urge you to deny the expansion and pass a city ordinance that would prohibit Timbavati, Kalahari and Chula Vista in showing lion and tiger cubs.”
A letter from Jim Mattei, at Storybook Gardens, where the park has been located, praised Schoebel’s care of the animals and the site.
Schoebel, who participated in the meeting by telephone, said in response to a question by the commission that he had never been fined for violating the animal welfare regulations enforced by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and had never lost his license.
Schoebel said only juvenile big cats would be at the wildlife park. Larsen had said in the e-mail that once the cats become adults Schoebel sells them for parts and hunting.
Commissioner Dan Anchor asked what happens to the juvenile cats when they get too big.
Schoebel said they are returned to his farm near Princeton.
Donald Kalberg of Sweetbriar Drive, asked to speak while the commission was discussing the wildlife park. He was given permission to do so by Mayor Helland, although he said Kalberg should have raised his questions during the public hearing.
“My main concern is the safety thing,” Kalberg said. “I don’t want to walk out and find a tiger on my deck.” Other concerns were about odor, the care of the animals, what would be done if an animal got loose and whether someone injured at the park could sue the city. Kalberg said he is not against the park, but is just concerned about safety and the animals. “I am an animal lover myself.”
The commission put six conditions on the permit, and one is providing the city with proof of insurance. Others are to hold a USDA license, be responsible for removing solid waste and ensure that the park has no odor or other nuisances, that it resolve any stormwater issues, that it resolves any unforeseen nuisance problems with neighboring properties and that it and Riverview address any parking issues. The permit approval also specifies that no development be done in a point on the river that is not in the 200 foot conservancy zone that protects the river front.
Schoebel said the animal enclosures would have double gates and comply with USDA regulations. His proposal presented to the commission said the entire area would be enclosed with an 8 foot high fence.
Commissioner Shaun Tofson asked whether the law enforcement has the ability to deal with any escaped animals and would officers receive training.
The Lake Delton Police know who they are and how to get in touch with them, Schoebel said, and Dells Police would be supplied with contacts for the park. “Nobody is more concerned with safety than we are.” He said he is not aware of any training for police and he and his staff have “an array of capture equipment. We would definitely be in the lead.”
As to concerns about odor, Schoebel said the pens are cleaned daily or more often if needed. In the past Veolia has provided a dumpster and disposal of waste.
Schoebel said he plans to remove the waterslides and in his first year will use that area and the area of park up to the wooded area.
In other action, the commission approved a site plan for an addition to the Trapper’s Turn Clubhouse, gave permission to allow a house to be remodeled rather than be torn down and consider changes in the city’s zoning map.
The addition would be 38 feet by 38 feet and would have another bar and addition restaurant seating.
Tanya and Eddie Krause, owners of Amber’s Hideaway at Broadway and Highway 16, received permission to not tear down a house on the motel property. The city had set as a condition on the permit for the remodeling of the motel that the house be torn down.
Public Works Director Mike Horkan, a member of the commission, said he talked with Tanya Krause, pointing out to her that the house is currently not safe or sanitary. To fix it up the floors would have to come out and it would require a lot of work. “I went through it and it and she didn’t bat an eye,” he said.
Horkan said Tanya said she has fallen in love with the architecture of the house and the Krauses intend to remodel it, starting first with the exterior. Then in another year of remodeling would move here and live in the house. He said the couple has done a good job of remodeling the motel and have gone beyond the city’s expectations with their work there.
Helland said the couple has done what they said they were going to do and the city is happy to have them as part of the community.
Assistant Public Works Director Chris Tollaksen presented the commission with a revised zoning map showing the zoning classifications for six areas annexed into the city since 2007, when the current map was adopted. The map also shows the zoning classifications for three areas where zoning changes were made and corrections to two areas were mistakes were made in the making the current map.
One of those areas was around Sweetbriar Drive which was changed to commercial, and Tollaksen said it should be residential.
However, Adam Makowski, who lives on Sweetbriar said he though the area surround the northern part of the street should be commercial.
Tollaksen said he would look at the area again and check with residents there before bringing the map back to the commission at the April 13 meeting.