ALDF Calls Out Tennessee Animal House of Horror

Posted on September 9, 2014

Severe Animal Neglect at Briarwood Safari Sparks Outcry from Legal Advocates

For immediate release:

Lisa Franzetta, ALDF
Megan Backus, ALDF

briarwood-zoo-article-image-230pxMorristown, TN – After thorough review of inspection records of Briarwood Safari—a roadside zoo near Knoxville—the national nonprofit Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) sent a formal letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) demanding the agency enforce the law against violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA). ALDF’s review shows animal cruelty citations have gone unenforced and the group urges the USDA to move suffering animals to reputable shelters where they can receive veterinary attention. Furthermore, ALDF’s letter calls on the USDA to apply civil penalties and revoke the license of the facility (owned by Briarwood Investments, Inc.) for violating the AWA on multiple occasions, including but not limited to:

  • Failing to provide adequate or clean shelter; several animals were crammed into terribly small enclosures–a lemur and two nilgais were unprotected in freezing temperatures. In the alpaca enclosure, the feed bowl was placed on top of a large pile of feces. The open socket end of a wire cord was hanging inside the wallaby enclosure. The Savannah Cats’ food bowls were infested with insects. During one inspection, two deer escaped from the enclosure onto a public road.
  • Failing to provide veterinary care to a blind llama, a Great Pyrenees dog named JJ covered with thick mats, at least three goats, one of whom had an elongated thick claw that caused obvious discomfort and prevented the animal from standing for most of the inspection. Another goat could not stand because her foot was swollen, along with other injured animals covered in flies.
  • Lack of consistent access to potable water was another serious problem. Three water troughs were available for use by animals in the drive-thru park, but all were empty or nearly empty. During inspection, park patrons filled the troughs for the first time in two days, and animals were observed to steadily come over to drink the fresh water for several hours.

Inspectors noted Briarwood does not have enough employees to adequately care for all of the animals in the park and properly maintain enclosures. In July 2014, there was only one full-time employee to handle daily observation and care for more than 100 animals.

“We urge the USDA to act upon this horrific and illegal neglect—which has been thoroughly documented in the USDA’s own records,” said Stephen Wells, executive director of the Animal Legal Defense Fund. “Facilities like this must be held accountable to the law or more animals will suffer.”

ALDF’s letter is available by request.

Tags: ,

24 thoughts on “ALDF Calls Out Tennessee Animal House of Horror

  1. Renee Snyder says:

    I am appalled!

  2. Laurie A McRae says:

    I hope & pray that ALDF’s “outing” of the neglect, abuse & inhumane treatment of the animals at Briarwood Safari (more aptly deemed “Tennesse Animal House of Horror”) results in the place being closed down, or at the very least taken over by an organization that will provide a clean, safe habitats, with plenty of good food & clean water!

  3. Lauren Smith says:

    Shame on you Briarwood Safari. This HOUSE OF HORRORS needs to Be shut Down! Basic needs for adequate Shelter, clean food and water and vetinary care all IGNORED…not to mention the disgusting conditions..animals having to sleep in feces and filthy old food infested with bugs. The owners should be arrested and sentenced for Animal Cruelty.

    1. Priscilla Pheland says:

      Agreed!! Get on prosecution for animal cruelty.

  4. Karen Lundstrom says:

    This is absolutely disgusting!

  5. Marilyn Stonebraker says:

    Briarwood Safari needs to be shut down due to animal neglect and abuse. If they can’t take care of them properly then they need to close the doors and animals put in a sanctuary. People who have too many animals to care for them also have all their animals taken away from them. The same should go for any place that animals are housed.

  6. Shirley Cofresi says:

    Animal cruelty and neglect justified? NO If you can’t afford to house and care properly for animals, then you shouldn’t be allowed to keep animals who are depending on you for their needs. I’m appalled at the condition of animals who have no say in the matter! We are their voice! End the cruelty now!

  7. Priscilla Pheland says:

    Shame on you for leaving innocent animals in your care in so much distress when this should be a willful and loving commitment to them. You are their caretaker. This is unacceptable!! Get on your duty in life and help those animals.

  8. Margaret Taylor says:

    Close and prosecute those responsible. Those that are responsible. It makes me sick!

  9. Maureen Allen says:

    ALDF please post ways Americans for animals can support this initiative. Your vital work is taking down criminals across the U.S.–deserves all our support! (You already have our admiration and gratitude.)

  10. Alan Weiskot says:

    Shut this hell hole down! Disgraceful we should take all the animals out of this sickening place and make the owners pay for all their medical care. Alan W.

  11. Cindy Wines says:

    Someone needs to get a hold of the local TV and news station to make the citizens of Knoxville aware of this abuse. These are innocent animals dependent on other people for their welfare. Shame on them for this abuse. Shut this place down and send these animals to a sanctuary!!

  12. Jodie Morrison says:

    I agree get this on the news. Protest and do not encourage them. Save these animals.

  13. Corie Benton says:

    Sad, disgusting!

  14. Evelyn Ford says:

    Please ban this place from ever owning any animals and free all the animals

  15. Evelyn Ford says:

    Ban this place snd never allow these People to own sny animals ever again.Free sll the animals

  16. Lindsey says:

    I’m thankful (I’m sure the animals are too) that there are people like you looking out for them. Unfortunately, it happens way too often that animals are treated as disposable items. This breaks my heart.

  17. lorraine says:

    Please let these animals feel freedom!
    Release them to adopters and sanctuarys
    They deserve the right thing!

  18. Kim S says:

    Disgusting!! Close them down for good….if you can’t care properly for any animal, why not simply turn them over to sanctuary/ Stop the neglect and suffering now!
    Thanks ALDF – keep up the good fight!

  19. sherry glazer says:

    Glad the 2 deer escaped. Hope they were able to run away to freedom.

  20. Darlene Baneky says:

    No one should own or run anything that has animals if you can’t take care of them!!!

  21. Anne Haggerty says:

    USDA must do its job. There is a terrible need for many, many more inspectors. Money needs to go into animal welfare if we are to be a respectable, good society. Prosecute abusers!

  22. Dan & Kathy says:

    Please fight for these animals. Their treatment is deplorable

    Could you please update me on Tony the truck stop tiger. Did he make it to a sanctuary?

  23. Kristine Vedd says:

    Why if they have been inspected hasn’t something been done? They rely on the people to take care of them. This is so wrong. Take care of those precious babies. Give them to some place that will take care of them.

Be a Partner in Protection!

Donate monthly to help animals.

or make a one-time gift »

ALDF's Online Store

Help fund our lifesaving work!


Stay Connected

Sign up for Action Alerts.

Join Us

Follow ALDF on these networks:

Stay Connected

Sign up for Action Alerts.