Close Waccatee Zoo - Send the Animals to Sanctuaries

Close Waccatee Zoo - Send the Animals to Sanctuaries

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Myrtle Beach Compassionate Collective started this petition to USDA/APHIS/AC and

The for-profit road-side zoo, Waccatee Zoo, located at 8500 Enterprise Rd, Myrtle Beach, SC 29588 - needs to be shut down and the animals sent to real sanctuaries. Please join us in speaking up for the animals.

Once again, inspectors with the U.S. Department of Agriculture determined that animals at the Waccatee Zoo are STILL “showing signs of psychological distress". This was the conclusion agency inspectors came to after conducting an investigation at the facility on March 28th, 2018.

Prior to this, on January 29, 2018, notification was also sent to USDA/APHIS/Animal Care Eastern Region via e-mail: Re: Urgent Request for Investigation of Apparent Animal Welfare Act Violations at Waccatee Zoo (License No. 56-C-0230) to request that the USDA immediately investigate Kathleen M. Futrell, dba "Waccatee Zoo" (license number 56-C-0230) for confining animals to conditions that apparently violate the Animal Welfare Act (AWA), as demonstrated by the ongoing abnormal behavior exhibited by multiple animals, including aggressive behavior between two macaques that resulted in open bleeding wounds.

This zoo has been in existence for as long as many locals can remember, and for as long, visitors have posted their stories and photographs and videos. For over 17 years there has been a place where animals go to be imprisoned until they die  - and yet nothing has been done.

The animals are being caged in enclosures that would be considered too small for even common household pets. Animal Control or ASPCA rescuers will go to a person's home and tell them they have to take their animals to the vet because of matted hair or risk having them taken away - but they do nothing to help these animals in these filthy conditions because of the lacking and weak laws in the state.

The 2015 death of the chimpanzee, Chico, was STILL not enough to shut the place down. At just 31 years old, the lonely Chico died suddenly from congenital heart disease. Had he had chimpanzee companionship and the appropriate veterinary care - it would have saved his life. Chimps live to be 40 to 50 years old in the wild, and 50 to 60 years in proper captivity. For more than 30 years, Chico the chimpanzee was living at the Waccatee Zoo after he was taken from his mother as an infant and kept him in isolation. The zoo was begged to relinquish Chico, the lone chimpanzee there at the time, to a sanctuary so that he could live in comfort with other chimpanzees. But the owners refused to do the right thing for this intelligent, social animal, and the facility reportedly had NO IDEA that he even had a heart condition! This could have been prevented, and sanctuaries as well as PETA rescuers, begged for the zoo to do the right thing and release him to sanctuary. The zoo kept him captive. Visitors reported witnessing the primate being given cigarettes to smoke and Mountain Dew to drink.

Add to this the recent online footage of the injured Llama that was ignored for hours before being 'euthanized' - another big red flag! All the years of neglect, and the recent USDA findings published in March of this year - ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!

The Waccatee Zoo, which also calls itself a "zoological farm", has been at the center of controversy - multiple times before - regarding the care of its animals. PETA began reporting the sad conditions in 2014, but many area local citizens and visitors have been vocalizing their concerns about the animals and the poor conditions there since before 2011! PETA had alerted the USDA to numerous apparent AWA violations at the facility, including bears with large amounts of hair loss confined to dirty concrete enclosures, primates who were pulling out their hair and circling and pacing in tiny cages - in apparent psychological distress, as well as a severely overweight cougar who was in apparent need of veterinary attention.

The USDA report from March 28th documented that the zoo was already previously told to provide the primates and bears with enclosures to allow them to stretch, forage, and engage in other natural types of behavior – BUT these changes still were NOT put in place and many of the animals continue to show signs of psychological distress.

Because the animal protection laws in South Carolina are so minimal, it is often difficult to attack zoos from a legal standpoint. You may find that the cages are tiny, the animals look hot and dispirited, or that the animals are displaying stereotypical behavior, but none of these conditions are specifically against the law. Even when exhibitors are consistently found non-compliant during inspections, they are typically allowed time to make “improvements.” Because the USDA rarely revokes operators’ licenses, or even levies fines, animals continue to suffer at zoos all over the country. Waccatee is a classic example.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) licenses animal exhibitors but, unfortunately, the laws protecting captive animals are pitifully weak. The federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA) sets forth only minimum requirements for animal care, and for the most part, only addresses basic husbandry issues. For example, according to the AWA, animals must be fed, watered, and sheltered, yet space requirements only mandate that the animals be able to make “normal postural changes” (i.e. allow them enough room to stand up, lie down, and turn around).

There are a number of reputable sanctuaries and facilities that we can work with, that will willingly help relocate and rehabilitate the animals into health. We will have help to facilitate where the animals will go when we get to that point. However, listing the names of sanctuaries could have a negative result as they could become a target themselves by Waccatee Zoo staff or their supporters. We also don’t want them to choose a pseudo sanctuary or another roadside zoo - or purposely not choose a reputable sanctuary - if it ends up being their choice.

There are reputable sanctuaries and facilities who have the knowledge and ability to properly care for the species at Waccatee Zoo. Reputable sanctuaries are often accredited by the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries (GFAS), but not all reputable sanctuaries are accredited.

The laws that do exist need to be upheld as well!
South Carolina Code of Laws Unannotated - Title 47 - Animals, Livestock and Poultry

SECTION 47-1-40. Ill-treatment of animals generally; penalties.

(A) A person who knowingly or intentionally overloads, overdrives, overworks, or ill-treats an animal, deprives an animal of necessary sustenance or shelter, inflicts unnecessary pain or suffering upon an animal, or by omission or commission knowingly or intentionally causes these acts to be done, is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be punished by imprisonment not exceeding ninety days or by a fine of not less than one hundred dollars nor more than one thousand dollars, or both, for a first offense; or by imprisonment not exceeding two years or by a fine not exceeding two thousand dollars, or both, for a second or subsequent offense.

(B) A person who tortures, torments, needlessly mutilates, cruelly kills, or inflicts excessive or repeated unnecessary pain or suffering upon an animal or by omission or commission causes these acts to be done, is guilty of a felony and, upon conviction, must be punished by imprisonment of not less than one hundred eighty days and not to exceed five years and by a fine of five thousand dollars.

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