Born Free USA and Animal Rescue League of Iowa File Second Petition to Strengthen Roadside Zoo Oversight in Iowa

Posted on August 26, 2015

For Immediate Release

Born Free USA and Animal Rescue League of Iowa File Second Petition to Strengthen Roadside Zoo Oversight in Iowa

“Roadside zoos across Iowa imprison exotic animals such as lions, tigers, and bears in appalling conditions. How do these facilities get away with this?” – Born Free USA CEO

Washington, DC, August 24, 2015 — Born Free USA, a global leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation, along with the Animal Rescue League of Iowa, filed a Petition for Judicial Review today requesting that the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS) reconsider their responsibility to enforce captive exotic animal regulations.

The original petition, submitted in November, 2014, demanded greater accountability from IDALS. This agency is tasked with carrying out the state’s exotic animal ownership regulations, but has chosen to interpret them in the weakest way possible, fundamentally abrogating its responsibility to have roadside zoos across the Iowa register with the state.

According to Adam M. Roberts, CEO of Born Free USA and the Born Free Foundation, “This irresponsible and careless approach creates an unacceptable risk for both public safety and captive exotic animals in Iowa. Roadside zoos across the state imprison exotic animals such as lions, tigers, and bears in appalling conditions. How do these facilities get away with this? It comes down to a fatal combination: poor federal enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act, and nonexistent state oversight.”

IDALS’ interpretation of the exotic animal ownership law does not match the intent of lawmakers. Under current law, roadside zoos are supposed to be required to register with the state. This would create greater accountability by allowing the state to identify, track, and monitor exotic animals. It would provide the authority to investigate complaints of animal mistreatment and suspend or revoke registrations. Such oversight would also prevent individuals from exploiting a loophole and obtaining federal exhibitor licenses just to circumvent the state prohibition on private exotic pet ownership.

IDALS rejected the original petition by inaccurately claiming that they do not have the authority to implement such a rule and that the legislature never intended the registration scheme to be used in this way. This assertion is merely another attempt to continue evading their responsibilities and providing little to no oversight over exotic animals languishing throughout the state. The new Petition for Judicial Review dismantles their weak justification and makes clear the steps IDALS must take to move forward.

Roberts added, “This is one step in a long battle to address the animal welfare and public safety risks that are inherent at these substandard facilities. We are confident, though, that it is the start of positive changes for exotic animals in Iowa.”

Born Free USA is a global leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation. Through litigation, legislation, and public education, Born Free USA leads vital campaigns against animals in entertainment, exotic “pets,” trapping and fur, and the destructive international wildlife trade. Born Free USA brings to North America the message of “compassionate conservation”—the vision of the United Kingdom-based Born Free Foundation, established in 1984 by Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna, stars of the iconic film Born Free, along with their son, Will Travers. Born Free’s mission is to end suffering of wild animals in captivity, conserve threatened and endangered species, and encourage compassionate conservation globally. More at www.bornfreeusa.org; www.twitter.com/bornfreeusa; and www.facebook.com/bornfreeusa.

Media Contact: Rodi Rosensweig, 203/270-8929, TheRodiCompany@gmail.com


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