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Feds Slap Mobile Zoo with Violations
WILMER, Ala. (WPMI) A recent federal inspection found 17 violations at the Mobile Zoo ranging from enclosures in disrepair to poor veterinary care.
The USDA inspection was spurred by a complaint from PETA.
USDA inspectors found one of the zoo's popular attractions, a chimpanzee named Joe, was showing signs of "psychological distress" as he was seen "jumping, banging, throwing dirt and spitting." He only had a tire and pieces of a toy to play with in an enclosure that was starting to fall apart.
The feeding door of an enclosure with two tigers inside was found to be improperly locked, "potentially allowing the escape of the animals." Part of the fencing was rusting and deteriorating, raising concerns about the enclosure's structural integrity.
In a number of enclosures, cleanliness was also a concern. Not only were roach infestations found, some enclosures had feces that was so old that it had turned white.
During the inspection in late July, the temperature was greater than 90 degrees and three black bears were seen "continuously panting." Inspectors reported that the bears' pool was in disrepair and they didn't have adequate ways to cool down.
A black leopard had "a loss of hair around both eyes with a crusty and thickened appearance." The leopard had last been examined and treated by a veterinarian "about five weeks ago" with no follow-up discussion or treatment, according to inspectors.
John Hightower, the man who runs the zoo, declined to do an on-camera interview with Local 15. He did say off-camera that the USDA always seems to find something wrong, and "the way they write the regulations, you just can't win."
Local 15 reported in May of this year that a bison had escaped the zoo and was later found shot dead and skinned. Local 15 revealed other USDA reports on the zoo which questioned the security of its enclosures.