Target: United States Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack
Goal: Enforce regulations against inhumane roadside zoos
Unregulated roadside zoos have an often-deserved reputation for abuse and substandard care of their animals. Both the Farm at Walnut Creek and Lazy 5 Ranch House of North Carolina, owned by Henry Hampton, are no exception. Cited for repeated violations against the Animal Welfare Act—a federal set of laws that regulate the treatment of animals used for exhibition, research, transport, and by dealers—these attractions have nonetheless gone without penalty. We must demand that something be done and regulations are enforced.
Unethical and even abusive conditions are not uncommon with unregulated roadside exhibitions, yet there are laws meant to protect against the suffering of animals. But there is no point to these laws and regulations if they not enforced. Hampton has been cited multiple times for severe neglect of the exotic animals at both attractions, including unsheared sheep suffering from heat exhaustion, deer with open wounds and hernias, and a giraffe suffering untreated overgrown hooves. Nearly every visit by federal inspectors turned up problems or neglectful care of animals, some with problems that were allowed to go on for months. Inadequate housing and husbandry were also cited after a giraffe was entrapped in the bars of his cage and died. Yet, nothing has been done to shut down these zoos or penalize Hampton, and the animals on exhibit are left in the hands of an owner who does not take the proper steps to care for them.
It is the duty of the federal government to enforce regulations and protect exhibition animals from cruelty and neglect. Still, the problems and issues at Lazy 5 Ranch House and the Farm at Walnut Creek have gone unaddressed despite the numerous instances of citations and inspections that revealed neglectful and inhumane conditions. We cannot allow the continuation of such places. We cannot allow the USDA to overlook the suffering of animals that must rely on government intervention for protection. Demand the enforcement of regulations against these despicable roadside zoos.
Dear Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack,
Henry Hampton, owner of the Farm at Walnut Creek and Lazy 5 Ranch House, has been cited numerous times for inhumane conditions and neglect of his animal exhibits, yet his license has not been revoked, nor have his businesses been penalized. It is disheartening and disturbing that the regulations meant to address these very issues have not been enforced and animals continue to suffer for it. Though Hampton did make reported efforts to address some problems, federal inspections turned up evidence of continual bad conditions and animals suffering untreated wounds and lack of care.
I ask that you follow through on the numerous violations of the Animal Welfare Act present in this case, penalize the parks, and take all necessary steps to protect these animals from further mistreatment and neglect. Lax regulations should not become a norm, especially when the welfare of animals is at stake. There is no reason to allow this inhumane treatment to continue.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Roland H. via Wikimedia Commons