- Views & Opinions
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has cited the Mobile Zoo again for a series of new infractions.
The latest inspections at the Alabama zoo by the USDA found numerous infractions including food spoilage that led to maggot infestation, nails jutting out of structures and lack of employees.
The facility hosts more than 70 animals and only has two employees. There are additional volunteers, sometimes.
The USDA said the root of the infractions stem from the zoo being inadequately staffed to keep up with maintenance demands.
Officials also found that chicken was stored in an ice-chest with a temperature of 63 degrees.
The USDA inspector reported that the zoo owner, John Hightower, said that any meat leftover from feeding animals would be thrown out at the end of the day. By 3 p.m. the day after, the chicken was not disposed of.
The food concerns didn’t stop at refrigeration.
The inspector found the remnants of two-day-old meat in a leopard’s habitat that they described as “dry, dark and dirty.”
PETA has filed suit against the Mobile Zoo on behalf of Joe, the chimp who starred in the 1997 movie called “Buddy.” PETA alleges that keeping Joe in a solitary enclosure with no other chimps violates the Animal Welfare Act.
PETA has offered to relocate Joe to a much larger refuge where he can be social, free-of-charge. But Mobile Zoo has declined that offer.
Joe lives in an enclosed habitat that doesn’t have any grass, just dirt, an old tire and fencing around it. There’s an area where he can go inside and watch TV, something he loves.
Zoo manager Angela Enders has previously launched a fundraising campaign to help Joe, but had little success.
The zoo requires $6,000 a month to stay open, including food and utilities, and barely breaks even. Hightower posted a plea for $14,000 back in March. Now, the website advertises that if a patron brings in 10 lbs of meat from Food For Less, he or she can feed the big cats.