PETA files federal lawsuit against Waccatee Zoo for poor animal care

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) – A roadside zoo in the Myrtle Beach area is at the center of a federal lawsuit filed by a prominent animal rights organization.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina on Tuesday against the Waccatee Zoo, located on Enterprise Road.

The lawsuit claims the roadside zoo violates federal endangered species law and South Carolina’s public nuisance law.

In the 123-page lawsuit, PETA says the Waccatee Zoo confines and exposes more than 460 animals and calls it one of the worst roadside zoos in America.

“The conditions at the defendants’ facility deprive these animals of the necessities — including adequate veterinary care, shelter, food and water — that they need to live without unnecessary suffering,” the lawsuit alleges.

He also claims that PETA has received more than 150 complaints from the public regarding the Waccatee Zoo.

The lawsuit makes several allegations of abuse, including inadequate veterinary care for Lila the tigress who died in 2021 or late 2020 after she lost most of her fur.

“Lila became so emaciated that much of her skeleton – including her vertebrae, shoulder blade, shoulder, hip and other joints – was visible through her skin.

PETA says in the lawsuit that many other animals at the roadside zoo are in the same condition, and some have difficulty walking due to malnutrition and their hooves are overgrown.

Since 1992, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has cited the Waccatee Zoo for more than 10 violations of Animal Welfare Act (AWA) requirements, the lawsuit says. Most recently, the USDA fined the zoo $7,800 in February in response to six alleged AWA violations regarding animal or animal enclosure conditions throughout 2020 and 2021.

RELATED COVERAGE | Socastee Area Zoo fined by USDA for animal welfare violation

“Animals languish in the cramped enclosures of this ramshackle roadside zoo, where they’ve plucked their own feathers, been denied companionship, and are wasting away,” says Brittany Peet, PETA Foundation associate general counsel for enforcement. captive animal law. “The plaintiffs are eager to bring this hell to a judge and bring these long-suffering animals to reputable facilities where they will receive the care they desperately need.”

The lawsuit asks a judge to declare the operation of the Waccatee Zoo a public nuisance and issue a permanent injunction against the defendants and end their ownership of the zoo. She is also asking the judge to order that the animals be moved to other facilities and sanctuaries.

WMBF News contacted Waccatee Zoo and spoke with Kathleen Futrell about the lawsuit. She said at the time that she had no comment on the lawsuit.

Copyright 2022 WMBF. All rights reserved.

Benjamin M. Yerger