Does Your Zoo Participate in “Animal Loans”?

Posted by Stephen Wells, ALDF's Executive Director on October 4, 2010

Discovered by police investigating an assault case, scores of allegedly neglected reptiles — many reportedly ill or with injuries, some already dead — were rescued from Terry Cullen’s Milwaukee County, Wisconsin residence in May 2010. In yet another example of the link between animal abuse and violence against humans, Cullen is facing charges related to alleged animal abuse, sexual assault and false imprisonment.

Cullen had presented himself as a reptile collector for years, and many
of the animals in his possession, including endangered species, were
reportedly loaned to him by zoos. That only a handful of these zoos are reported to have come forward to take responsibility for the animals they had given to Cullen "on loan" is no surprise to seasoned wildlife rescuers.

Please contact the zoos in your state and ask them to document their policies on "animal loans" for you. Many zoos benefit from taxpayer dollars, and the public should expect there to be a goal of lifetime responsibility with respect to each animal a zoo accepts into its charge, with a clear and transparent record-keeping system in place to discourage untraceable animal dealing.

It is unfortunately a rare zoo that meets this responsibility with any meaningful accuracy — breeding programs resulting in animal "surpluses," a zoo’s dependence on entrance gate profits and the public’s demand for "newer and cuter" all contribute to a zoo’s participation in the revolving doors of the exotic animal trade industry.

Please contact the zoos in your area and email any feedback you receive to ALDF at

If you are local to the Milwaukee area, please consider supporting the prosecution by attending court proceedings. A hearing date in the criminal case against Terry Cullen is currently scheduled for December 13, 2010. (Always contact the Court to confirm court dates and locations as they are subject to change.) Please notify us at if you plan on attending.

Court information can be found here.

Thank you for holding zoos in your area accountable for the animals in their care!

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