A group of animal advocates are calling for a boycott of the Lagoon Amusement Park in Farmington, Utah due to the poor conditions the animals are kept in.
A variety of wild and exotic animals can be seen from the park’s Wild Kingdom Train Ride, ranging from miniature donkeys and deer to elk, bears, Siberian tigers, Canadian lynx and camels, among others, who are kept in small enclosures with dirt or concrete floors that provide minimal space and no environmental enrichment. It might be advertised as the second largest zoo in the state, but the facility is not designed to properly house the species of animals that reside there.
“Lagoon has failed to meet minimal federal standards for the care of animals used in exhibitions as established in the Animal Welfare Act (AWA). The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has cited Lagoon numerous times for failure to provide veterinary care to sick and dying animals, filthy enclosures, inadequately trained employees, and failure to provide animals with adequate space. Lagoon has had a high death rate and several unexplained deaths,” said Jordan Kasteler, who organized the group and operates LagoonSucks.com.
Lagoon spokesman Dick Andrew has denied allegations of abuse, claiming that there are four veterinarians who monitor the animals regularly and staff members who work with the animals every day, according to the AP …although ABC 4 News reports that he said they have three vets. Maybe he doesn’t really know.
Regardless, it doesn’t matter if there are vets nearby when no one calls them, or inaccurately communicates the issues when they do actually call, or when employees are not properly trained to monitor the behavior, health and well being of the animals in their care and don’t recognize problems when they arise in the first place.
Andrew also stated that the last USDA violation was in 2006 for a paperwork issue, but the most recent violation was in 2011 for failure to maintain a program of parasite control for its leopards, which included failure to follow up after treatment for intestinal worms to ensure that they were gone and the leopards were healthy.
The list of USDA violations is enough to leave anyone wondering why Lagoon has been continuously allowed to keep animals. A fallow deer fawn didn’t live through its first 48 hours because no one observed whether or not it was nursing, as directed by a veterinarian. Bison were found with no water. Sheep were found with nowhere to lay down in the shade because of the “concentration of feces that had accumulated’ in their shelter. This problem had been previously noted by an inspector seven times. Animals were left with overgrown hooves, but it was undetermined if this was because no one was maintaining records for when they were due for regular hoof care, or because no one actually knew they needed it.
Elk were found with ribs showing. Multiple animals were found limping, with no records regarding treatment or followup care. A common theme in most of the violations is that no record keeping system is in place or maintained to ensure that all of the animals receive appropriate veterinary care, but the list goes on and on.
However, this isn’t the first time issues over animal care been called out at Lagoon. The Utah Animal Rights Coalition has been continuously protesting the zoo’s conditions after reportedly receiving “hundreds of phone calls” from the park’s visitors who were upset over the state of the animals at the zoo, while others have spoken out on their own.
The park has plenty of other attractions for visitors that don’t involve animals. It is not a rescue, a sanctuary or an accredited zoo. The animals are practically a sideshow trapped in an environment that they don’t belong in and there is simply no reason for them to be there.
Kasteler said group plans to continue with protesting until their are actual changes.
Please sign and share the petition asking Lagoon Amusement Park to stop imprisoning the animals in its care and let them go to facilities that are better suited meet their needs.
Photo credit: Jordan Kasteler