Challenging the Treatment of Animals at Special Memories Zoo

In September 2019, the Animal Legal Defense Fund sent a notice of intent to sue Special Memories Zoo, a roadside zoo in Greenville, Wisconsin, for violations of the Endangered Species Act, state cruelty laws, and public nuisance statutes.

Updated

September 10, 2019

Work Type

Litigation

Status

Active

Notice of intent to sue send on September 10, 2019

Next Step

File lawsuit

If Special Memories Zoo does not comply

In September 2019, the Animal Legal Defense Fund sent the statutorily required notice of intent to sue Special Memories Zoo, a roadside zoo in Greenville, Wisconsin, for violations of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) as well as state captive wild animals, cruelty, and public nuisance laws.

Two endangered tigers, Tanya and Teagan, are kept in small, rusty cages at the zoo, where they are not provided the basic necessities of clean water, food, or straw. Their water tanks are full of algae, their food is infested with maggots, and their straw is left soiled and unchanged for up to months on end. The Animal Legal Defense Fund has offered to transfer Tanya and Teagan, as well as the zoo’s 200-plus other animals, to reputable sanctuaries at no cost to Special Memories.

Visitors have observed sick and injured animals held in cramped, filthy cages without access to clean water. Ring-tailed lemurs have been observed without sufficient food or psychological enrichment. Endangered gray wolves are forced to live in small, muddy enclosures. Black leopards, lions, Canada lynx, Japanese macaques, and other animals suffer in similarly inhumane, unsafe, and illegal conditions.

The zoo’s problems have been documented by federal authorities. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has cited Special Memories multiple times for Animal Welfare Act (AWA) violations, including for animals housed in polluted enclosures, for lack of drinking water, and for food contaminated with rodent droppings. An employee was bitten by a bear after improperly interacting with the animal, according to a 2016 USDA report. The USDA has also cited the zoo for not having enough trained staff.

The Animal Legal Defense Fund offered to transfer Special Memories’ 200-plus animals to reputable sanctuaries at no cost to the zoo. The lawsuit will be filed if the zoo owners continue keeping the animals in illegal conditions.

Who is being sued, why, and under what law? Special Memories Zoo under the Endangered Species Act and Wisconsin public nuisance laws.

Why this case is important: The problems at the Special Memories Zoo are not unique. Roadside zoos dot the American landscape, able to operate due to lax enforcement of existing laws on both a state and federal level. The Animal Legal Defense Fund files lawsuits across the United States to protect animals held in captivity at roadside zoos, and advocates for stronger laws and better enforcement of existing laws.

Take Action: Urge the USDA to Investigate Special Memories Zoo

Join Tanya and the Animal Legal Defense Fund by sending a brief message to the USDA, urging the agency to investigate Special Memories Zoo today.

Take Action Now

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Location:

Wisconsin

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