NORMAN — The Tiger Safari in Tuttle has received its sternest warning yet from the U.S. Department of Agriculture regarding its facilities for animals and faces pressure from the Humane Society who want the place shut down.
It all stems from an inspection conducted by the USDA in February. The warning, made public June 20, cites failure to provide sufficient heat and heated shelters to lemurs, lack of promotion for the psychological well-being of primates, rodent infestation, poor facility maintenance and filthy cages.
“We always ask the USDA to pursue strict enforcement of the requirements,” Lisa Wathne, captive exotic animals specialist for the Humane Society said. “The fact that they have taken this next step is an example of how severe the conditions are there at Tiger Safari.”
William Meadows, Tiger Safari owner, said the violations were addressed the same day that Tiger Safari received the warning, which was in May. Meadows cites the zoo’s growth as one reason for the Human Society’s report.
Meadows said as the Tiger Safari grows, there will be “growing pains.”
That sentiment is not enough for the Humane Society, which will continue to push for action from the USDA. They point to the recent warning in addition to another issued in 2012 and USDA citations since 2004.
“What we see is facilities that don’t meet even the minimum requirements under the Federal Animal Welfare Act,” Wathne said. “We would like to see it closed down and see the animals put in an adequate facility, preferably a sanctuary, where the conditions are much more suitable.”
Meadows said there is a push across the country from groups like PETA and the Humane Society to shut down private zoos and ban ownership of exotic animals.
“Who’s to say a person can’t have a lemur, Fennec Fox or Burmese Python?” Meadows said.