Ban Unsafe Roadside Zoos

Target: Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley

Goal: Prevent unsafe roadside zoos from housing large exotic animals

A recent study by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) showed that Maryland’s roadside zoos are housing dangerous, exotic animals like big cats, bears and apes in filthy and unsafe structures. The study, entitled “Maryland’s Fatal Attractions,” found instances of “tigers living in a crumbling, empty swimming pool, primates who lack adequate environmental enrichment living in crowded or isolated conditions, bears exhibiting neurotic behaviors, dangerous and outdated cages, and attacks and escapes.” We must encourage Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley to implement stronger laws and close the loophole that allows these unsafe conditions to exist.

In Maryland, it is illegal to privately own big cats, bears and primates; however, a loophole allows any “exhibitor licensed under the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWS)” to be an exception to the law. This means that poorly run, filthy amateur zoos can legally possess these dangerous animals. According to the HSUS, “federal licenses are easy to obtain, but difficult for the agency to revoke and are renewed every year, even when a licensee has had serious and repeated AWA violations.”

Not only are these roadside zoos unsafe for the animals, but they are also a danger to the general public. Richard Farinato, a captive animals care expert with the HSUS, believes that “the conditions at these roadside zoos ranged from bad to worse and it’s only a matter of time before there’s another big cat attack or bear escape at one of these dilapidated menageries.”

By signing the petition below, you will help urge Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley to prioritize the safety of the animals and the public by closing the “exhibitor” loophole and banning these unsafe roadside zoos.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Governor Martin O’Malley,

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) conducted a study revealing that Maryland’s roadside zoos are housing dangerous, exotic animals like big cats, bears and apes in filthy and unsafe structures. These dreadful conditions are not only dangerous for the animals, but they also place the public at risk of an animal attack or escape.

Maryland law currently prevents citizens from owning big cats, bears and primates, but a loophole allows any “exhibitor licensed under the federal Animal Welfare Act” to be an exception to the law. These unsafe amateur zoos are taking full advantage of the “exhibitor” exception with no regard for the animals they house or the public they “entertain.”

I urge you to use your power and influence to amend state law and prevent unsafe roadside zoos from housing dangerous, exotic animals.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: PETA via Wikimedia Commons

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