Humane Society files complaint against Collins zoo - WDAM-TV 7-News, Weather, Sports-Hattiesburg, MS

Humane Society files complaint against Collins zoo

Courtesy: Humane Society Courtesy: Humane Society
Courtesy: Humane Society Courtesy: Humane Society
Courtesy: Humane Society Courtesy: Humane Society

COLLINS, MS (WDAM) - The Humane Society of the United States has filed a complaint against a locally-owned roadside zoo in Collins.

According to a press release from the HSUS, after conducting a 28-day undercover investigation at the Collins Zoo, The HSUS filed a complaint against the zoo with the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks alleging significant welfare and safety violations of state law that governs the possession of "wild animals inherently dangerous to humans."

According to the release, the zoo houses numerous exotic animals defined as "inherently dangerous," including cougars, wolves, leopards, tigers, a lion and a macaque monkey.

The complaint includes allegations of numerous potential violations of the minimum standards set by the state for housing and care of inherently dangerous animals, and is supported by video and still images from the investigation.

The HSUS has posted a video of the zoo here: Link to video

A veterinarian with the HSUS visited the zoo and claims to have found, "malnourished animals, a black leopard who needed veterinary attention for a front leg injury, and caging for two tigers so flimsy that he cited the potential for the animals to escape into the neighborhood."

The HSUS has listed the following findings from their investigation:

• The zoo owners do not appear to have either a permit or an exemption certificate for the possession of inherently dangerous animals, nor do they appear to qualify for one.

• Many of the inherently dangerous animals at the Collins Zoo are held in cages that do not meet the requirements set forth by the Department. Some of the cages are ramshackle in nature or worn and are unable to be properly sanitized, which could result in human injury or adversely affect animal health.

• Patrons at the Collins Zoo walk along a pathway to view species defined by the state of Mississippi as inherently dangerous to humans. A wooden railing approximately 3-feet high is all that separates the public from the animals' enclosures. As with all cages at the Collins Zoo, these agitated wild animals are accessible to the public with a simple hop over the wooden barrier.@

• Olive, a black wolf, was found ill on Dec. 11, 2009, by The HSUS investigator, who immediately told the zoo's owners, who said they would call a veterinarian. Olive had a very distended stomach and was lethargic and drooling. The investigator later learned that Olive died two days later without having seen a veterinarian and without having being medicated. She was buried in the goat pen on the owners' property.

• The enclosures housing the lion, the tigers, the cougars and the leopards all have major problems eliminating excess water. Standing pools of water were observed by The HSUS investigator on multiple days. The cougar enclosure experienced flooding on Oct. 30, 2009, leaving the animals standing in pools of water while it rained.

• The veterinarian who visited the facility also expressed concern over the cougars, stating: "All of the cats appeared visibly thin evidenced by clearly visible points of the hip bones, loss of muscle mass along the top-line…a very distinct, high tummy tuck and lack of facial/neck fat….Based on the body condition scoring charts for domestic cats…all [were] thin to emaciated."

• The barren, isolated environment in which the macaque is kept appears to be inappropriate for a social primate, and has negative repercussions on his well-being as evidenced by frequent pacing and chattering—observed by both the investigator and the veterinarian—as well as self-mutilation which is often seen in primates living in deprived conditions.@

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