In response to an investigation lasting more than six months, with the help of the ALDF (Animal Legal Defense Fund), authorities seized all the animals from a roadside zoo in Pennsylvania this week, releasing them from a facility that was deemed inhumane, and relocated them to various sanctuaries.
And the entire project was spearheaded by just six concerned local residents – individuals who were determined to make a difference!
In March, 2016, concerned about the welfare of all the animals, including a gray wolf named Bear, a Siberian tiger named Baby, a pair of black bears named Shawn and Sandy who had been residents of the zoo for 17 years, a bobcat, an arctic fox and three Capuchin monkeys, a federal lawsuit was filed by the residents against Animaland Zoological Park near the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon in Tioga County.
The suit alleged, among other charges, that the animals were enduring physical and emotional distress by living in filthy cages that were too small, they had no companionship or mental stimulation, and that the plaintiffs were animals lovers who suffered ‘personal distress’ when they saw how the animals were treated.
The ALDF lawsuit focused on Bear and Baby, since both animals are listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act. USDA inspection reports revealed more than 60 violations against the facility in recent years. In rebuttal, Animaland alleged that, for 14 years, they did, in fact, care for the animals brought to them by the community.
Faced with the lawsuit, at the end of August Animaland permanently
closed their doors and the ALDF made sure that all their animals were safely transported to sanctuaries and rehabilitation facilities in various states across the country.
Stated Stephen Wells, executive director for ALDF, “The animals at Animaland were suffering, and the zoo was breaking the law. We are relieved that they are finally free from their cramped and dilapidated quarters at Animaland.”
A group of the animals, including Baby, now have a new home at a wildlife rescue facility in PA. Bear has found companionship with other wolves at the Wolf Sanctuary of Pennsylvania. The black bear pair have been transported to their new home at Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation in San Antonio, Texas. You can download and watch Bear’s relocation video from the ALDF website!
After living in despair for so long, these animals are now released from their confinement and full of hope. Check out this great episode of Shelter Me hosted by Katherine Heigl, entitled “Shelter Me: Hope & Redemption”, and watch prisoners train shelter dogs to become service animals, giving the animals, the people they’re trained to assist, and the prisoners themselves, hope for a brighter future.