PETA Files Complaints Against Hattiesburg Zoo - WHLT 22 Connecting the Pine Belt

PETA Files Complaints Against Hattiesburg Zoo

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PETA Makes Complaints About Hattiesburg Zoo PETA Makes Complaints About Hattiesburg Zoo

HATTIESBURG, Miss. - A national animal rights organization files a complaint against the Hattiesburg Zoo.

The group, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals are claiming the that the zoo wants to breed endangered animals and that their staff is not equipped to do so.

"PETA provided comments opposing that because of the animal welfare record of the Hattiesburg Zoo," said Delcianna Winders, director of captive of animal law enforcement of PETA. 

"The information they provided is frankly not true, said Rick Taylor, executive director of the Hattiesburg Convention Commission.

He said that the zoo is not seeking to breed any endangered animals.

"The only animals we do breed our Blue Duikers which are apart of the small African antelopes and we provide that offspring to other zoos for educational purposes," he said.

Taylor said the Blue Duikers are not endangered. PETA also claims that the Hattiesburg Zoo received 10 different citations this summer for animal welfare violations, one being over Tigger, the tiger.

"The tiger enclosure had a hole in it that completely had rusted through and that's not safe," Winder said.

Taylor said the tiger's enclosure was just old with age and that the staff has fixed the problems.

"We got a new tiger facility that was the last of the old zoo that was here," Taylor said. "I think this just continues PETA's ongoing effort with trying to remove zoos from our country."

Winders said that's not the case.

"We would like to see the zoo not breed anymore animals and not acquire anymore animals and to just focus on providing care for those already existing in its possession." she said.

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The complete Media Release for PETA is Below:

Hattiesburg, Miss. — PETA has just filed formal comments with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) opposing the Hattiesburg Zoo's application for a permit to breed endangered animals. In its comments, PETA points out that captive-bred wildlife permits require licensees to enhance the propagation or survival of the species in the wild—and the facility has failed to propose any sort of plan for caring for the 18 species it seeks to be covered by the permit, let alone given any indication as to how displaying captive animals will enhance wild populations.

 

PETA also notes that the zoo's staff lacks the experience and expertise necessary to run a conservation and breeding program, and its consulting veterinarians primarily practice small-animal medicine. The current enclosures are small, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has repeatedly found them to be rusty and deteriorating.

 

"The Hattiesburg Zoo cannot be allowed to breed more animals when its own records indicate that it can't properly care for the animals it already holds captive," says PETA Foundation Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Delcianna Winders. "The key to saving wild animals lies in saving their habitat, not breeding and warehousing them in cruel menageries."

 

According to the USDA, the zoo's tiger enclosure doesn't provide adequate shelter from the elements, one primate was housed alone with no plan for enrichment, and housing for endangered lemurs didn't have a sufficient means of cooling. The zoo was cited for 10 animal welfare violations during a single inspection in August. Animal safety is also a problem. According to the zoo's own records, a jaguar repeatedly ate and regurgitated opossums and a large rat who had gotten into the endangered animal's enclosure, and in May 2012, two endangered lemurs escaped from their exhibit after a door was pushed open.

 

PETA's comments are available upon request. For more information, please visit PETA.org.

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The statement released from the Hattiesburg Zoo is below:

In response to PETA's recent comments to the Hattiesburg Media, the Hattiesburg Zoo offers the statement below:

"This is typical PETA sensationalism to further their agenda," said Rick Taylor, Executive Director of the Hattiesburg Convention Commission which manages the Hattiesburg Zoo. "As is common with most PETA commentary about zoos, the statement is inaccurate, unfounded and frankly untrue."

Though the Hattiesburg Zoo is not seeking to breed any endangered animals, for nine years, the Hattiesburg Zoo has been successfully breeding non-endangered Blue Duikers. The service of providing the offspring to other zoos throughout the United States helps to improve the public's knowledge and appreciation of this diminutive African antelope.

The Hattiesburg Zoo is able to participate in programs such as the Duiker Species Survival Plan (SSP), as well as, receive a permit from the United States Fish and Wildlife Services to hold a Golden Eagle, because of an exceptional staff with great expertise and passion for animal care. Our current staff has more than 65 combined years of animal care experience, including three zookeepers who, just this year, collectively received 800 hours of specialized Golden Eagle training.

In August, the USDA performed their routine inspection and noted the need for improvement to the current tiger holding facility. For many years now, the City of Hattiesburg, the Hattiesburg Zoological Society and the Hattiesburg Convention Commission has been working to replace the last remnants of what is often referred to as the "old zoo" with new enclosures such as those found in the Jaguar exhibit, the Golden Eagle exhibit, the Flamingo exhibit and the Zebu exhibit. It has been an ongoing process to move from the "old zoo" buildings and the Zoo is glad to say that in November, a $42,000 new tiger holding facility was completed, thus eliminating the need for any of the "old zoo" buildings.

In addition, the USDA noted that the male DeBrazza Guenon (monkey) did not have a same-species companion, though it enjoyed cross-species companionship with the Blue Duikers, who share the same enclosure, as they might be found in the wild. Nonetheless, the Hattiesburg Zoo has been searching for three years through the DeBrazza Species Survival Plan (SSP) for an appropriate companion from other zoos in the United States. The Zoo is pleased to have successfully found that match with a female DeBrazza Guenon that came, in November, from the Bronx Zoo.

"The Hattiesburg Zoo is a unique treasure to our city," said Taylor. "As such, the Zoo and its staff is committed to the highest levels of professionalism and animal care. The appearance of the Zoo, the growth in new animal exhibits, the ongoing staff training and the Zoo's education programs are a reflection of our dedication and commitment to this Zoo and to the Pine Belt. I would dare say that if PETA were to actually visit the Hattiesburg Zoo, they would fall in love with it just as our community has."

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