ALDF Calls Out Tennessee Animal House of HorrorPosted on September 9, 2014
Severe Animal Neglect at Briarwood Safari Sparks Outcry from Legal Advocates
For immediate release:
Lisa Franzetta, ALDF
Megan Backus, ALDF
Morristown, 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.