Free Primates Suffering at Hovatter’s Wildlife Zoo in West Virginia

Free Primates Suffering at Hovatter’s Wildlife Zoo in West Virginia

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Mia Londregan started this petition to Hovatter’s Wildlife Zoo in West Virginia

The industry using wild and exotic animals in entertainment is one of the most inhumane practices in the world. Primates and many other animals have been trapped in decrepit and unaccredited zoos, struggling with inappropriate living conditions. Some of them, thanks to the people of good will, were given a chance for the better life and were relocated to sanctuaries. We’re hoping that this will be the case with the primates kept in the Hovatter’s Wildlife Zoo in West Virginia.


Between 360 and 400 chimpanzees are held in zoos in the US alone. All primates in zoos suffer because they are forced to live in captivity. The stress they feel causes them to self-harm and exhibit other abnormal behaviors not exhibited in the wild. Although zoos seem like good places for these animals, in reality, they are not.


Zoos claim to teach the public about different species, conservation, and animal welfare. However, a study done in partnership with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums surveyed 12 accredited US zoos and found that only 10% of visitors learned something about conservation and there were no noteworthy changes in overall knowledge.


Nonhuman primates that reside in zoos are subjected to an environment that does not satisfy their natural needs; there is not sufficient space, or places to retreat and hide. Such an environment inhibits normal social interactions and increases harmful abnormal behaviors and inactivity. Humans are able to constantly view the primates that live in zoos, which is extremely stressful. Zoos are meant for the entertainment of guests, so the construction of the enclosures are tailored to look good for visitors instead of for primates; unfortunately, this leads to the compromised well-being of primates.


Accredited zoos must abide by certain guidelines; yet, even with these guidelines, such zoos still fall short of delivering the most enriching environments for captive primates. Roadside zoos do not even have to follow basic requirements. Research shows that without crucial factors, such as proper maternal rearing and social groups, primates develop abnormal behaviors that sometimes result in physical harm. Most roadside zoos are small and do not have many animals so it is plausible to assume that most primates are kept isolated which leads to self-injurious behavior and symptoms reflective of mental illness that are seen in humans who have undergone extreme stress or negative life events.


In 2015, the zoo was cited by the USDA for allowing two tiger cubs, that were too large and too aggressive, to be in photo shoots with the public. Also, they were not yet vaccinated to be exposed to the human public. This zoo “collects” chimps, japanese macaques, olive baboons, and ringtail lemurs. The lemurs are able to be directly fed by the public for an extra cost, but in the case they were not properly vaccinated, they could get sick very easily from direct contact with humans.


Please sign our petition asking the zoo to retire these nonhuman primates to a sanctuary where they will be taken care of properly, have increased space to roam, free from the public eye, and be able to interact with other members of their species.

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At 1,500 signatures, this petition is more likely to get picked up by local news!