For immediate release:
February 24, 2021
David Pearl 202-483-7382
Oroville, California. – PETA filed a formal complaint this morning with USDA Animal Welfare Director Robert Gibbens, urging the agency to investigate the Barry R. Kirchner Wildlife Fund for clear violations of the Federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA) following a three-year-old leopard named Royal attacked a volunteer and then escaped from his main aviary at the roadside zoo on Saturday.
According to the roadside zoo owner Roberta Kirchner and others, a volunteer entered the cage with an adult leopard – a predator strong enough to carry three times its own weight – and he pounced on her, inflicting five stab wounds on her neck. He then escaped to a fenced-in area outside of his enclosure before being captured while guests were on site. PETA notes that these events appear to violate the AWA’s ban on direct contact between dangerous animals and the public, including volunteers, as well as its requirements that enclosures contain animals and that exhibitors demonstrate adequate knowledge of the species under their care.
“Any expert on big cats knows that sending a volunteer to a cage with a powerful predator is a sure way to disaster,” says Debbie Metzler, deputy director of the PETA Foundation’s Animal Enforcement Administration. “The Barry R. Kirchner Wildlife Fund either doesn’t know what they’re doing or doesn’t care, and PETA is urging the USDA to hold this fictitious sanctuary accountable for putting volunteers, visitors and big cats at serious risk.”
In December, PETA notified the California Occupational Safety and Health Administration of the dangers of Kirchner’s employees entering the leopard enclosures. In January, the USDA cited Kirchner for the lack of a functioning veterinary care program and the absence of a treating veterinarian. Previous AWA violations at the roadside zoo include the possibility of dangerous contact by members of the public with lions, tigers and bears.
PETA, whose motto is in part that “the animals are not ours to be used for entertainment” – opposes arrogance, which is a worldview focused on human superiority. For more information please visit PETA.org or subscribe to the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram…