PETA sues Waccatee Zoo over animal care

Facility violates endangered species law and state law, court filing says

For immediate release:
April 27, 2022

David Perle 202-483-7382

Myrtle Beach, SC – Joined by members of the public who have visited the Waccatee Zoo and were appalled by its animal mistreatment, PETA has just filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina against the local zoo on the edge of road, under the Federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) and the Public Nuisance Act of South Carolina. The lawsuit alleges that the facility confines and exposes more than 460 animals, such as lions, ring-tailed lemurs and other ESA-protected animals, in conditions in which they are deprived of proper veterinary care and other necessities.

Among other allegations listed in the lawsuit, plaintiffs allege the following:

  • Inadequate veterinary care for Lila the tigress, among other flaws, resulted in the death of the endangered tiger at the facility. She had spent months wasting away, shedding fur, and pacing her cramped cage.
  • Endangered parrots are confined to cramped, unsanitary cages where they can barely fully spread their wings, let alone fly. Waccatee parrots appear to exhibit abnormal plucking behavior, indicating psychological distress likely caused by solitary confinement and environmental deprivation.
  • Visitors regularly observe the facility’s lions, Princess and Simba, roaming around in small, unsanitary cages. They live in isolation, although lions are very social animals.

Because the complainants allege that the institution’s mistreatment of everything the animals are a public nuisance under state law, they are asking the court for an order transferring the animals to a reputable facility.

“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.”

After PETA sent Waccatee an official notice warning of its intention to sue, the US Department of Agriculture fined the company. $7,800 for six alleged violations of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA). For two decades, the agency has cited Waccatee — which PETA calls “the worst roadside zoo in America” ​​— for more than 100 AWA violations. These violations include failing to provide animals with adequate veterinary care and keeping bears and cougars in enclosures that lack space. Last year, a federal inspection report found Waccatee left two lame sheep without veterinary care, failed to provide the animals with clean water and neglected safety protocols, resulting in an escaped monkey. capuchin during the inspection.

In addition to attorney for the PETA Foundation, the plaintiffs are represented by Jonathan Brightbill, Kyllan Gilmore and Sharon Lin of Winston & Strawn LLP.

PETA — whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours for entertainment” — opposes speciesism, a human supremacist worldview. For more information about PETA’s news gathering and investigative reporting, please visit or follow the group on Twitter, Facebookor instagram

Benjamin M. Yerger