OSHA Enforces Against G.W. Exotic Animal Park After Animal Legal Defense Fund ComplaintPosted on April 24, 2014
Federal Agency Fines Oklahoma Animal Park for Violation of Worker Safety Laws
For immediate release:
Lisa Franzetta, ALDF
Megan Backus, ALDF
Wynnewood, Okla. — The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited and fined a Wynnewood roadside zoo known as G.W. Exotic Animal Park for several serious violations of worker safety laws. The national nonprofit Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) sent a formal complaint requesting enforcement to OSHA on December 18, 2013, after a park employee was mauled by a tiger late on October 5, 2013 and nearly lost her arm. OSHA began its investigation of the facility two days after receiving ALDF’s letter, noting a lack of barriers between the employees and captive wild animals and other inadequate worker protections. Additional violations include not providing adequate communications of hazardous chemical exposure. These violations resulted in a legal citation and a $5200 proposed penalty, issued March 31, 2014. However, OSHA has since lowered the penalty to $2400.
Undercover investigations by other animal groups suggest that dozens of tiger cubs have died in the care of G.W. Exotic Animal Park, and animals have been routinely and violently assaulted by workers when fights erupt from incompatible animals being caged together. The investigations also indicate premature removal of infants from mothers, inadequate care of pain, and inappropriate behavior such as giving lit cigarettes to primates. Park operator Joe Schreibvogel has previously been fined $25,000 for nearly 200 violations of the Animal Welfare Act.
“Worker safety professionals everywhere should thank groups like ALDF for looking out for employees as well as for animal welfare,” according to Dr. Adam Finkel, formerly OSHA’s chief enforcement official in the Rocky Mountain states. “Shortly after OSHA issued these citations, the DC Circuit court ruled in a case against SeaWorld that OSHA clearly has the authority to insist that workers be protected from dangerous animals.”
“ALDF congratulates OSHA on its swift enforcement against this horrific park” said Stephen Wells, executive director of the Animal Legal Defense Fund. “Not only are workers and visitors repeatedly injured, but the animals at this roadside sham are miserably mistreated.”
Copies of ALDF’s complaint and OSHA’s citations are available by request.