Shut Down Allegedly Abusive Roadside Zoo

Target: Sonny Perdue, United States Secretary of Agriculture

Goal: Do not allow zoo accused of violating multiple animal welfare laws to continue its operations.

For years, Deer Haven Mini Zoo, a roadside animal attraction in Maryland, has been accused of keeping its animals in deplorable conditions and denying them basic veterinary care. The zoo has garnered a long list of citations from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and yet it continues to keep a number of animals, ranging from pigs to bobcats, in cramped and filthy cages, allegedly forcing the creatures to stand in their own feces. It is time for the USDA to intervene and shut down this zoo for good.

While some animals (such as Lily, a black bear who was carrying over 200 pounds in excess weight and could hardly breathe) have been retired from Deer Haven Mini Zoo to wildlife sanctuaries, others have not been so fortunate. Eyewitnesses report seeing an arctic fox with severe skin disease and a pig with overgrown hooves, among other signs of neglect. Nearly all the animals are said to live in small, concrete enclosures surrounded by their own waste.

Deer Haven Mini Zoo appears to be using its animals for profit without taking even their most basic needs into consideration. As they have not shown any intention to improve, they must be forced to shut down. Sign this petition and demand that the USDA close this roadside zoo permanently and ensure its animals are moved to accredited sanctuaries.


Dear Secretary Perdue,

Over the years, Maryland’s Deer Haven Mini Zoo has racked up an impressive list of  citations for failing to provide basic veterinary care or shelter to the many animals in its care. In addition to this, eyewitnesses have reported seeing animals with skin diseases and overgrown hooves, with others constantly pacing due to psychological stress. One former resident, a bear named Lily, was found to be morbidly obese and standing in her own waste due to the tiny size of her cage.

The zoo’s owners have done little to address these and all other concerns regarding the welfare of their animals. That is why we, the undersigned, demand that you intervene and shut down Deer Haven Mini Zoo once and for all, and ensure that all remaining animals are sent to wildlife sanctuaries.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Postdlf

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  1. Rosslyn Osborne says:

    I’m at a loss with your pathetic Laws.
    First infringement is given 2 weeks to fix the problems…If not done or other infringements show up then massive fines/jail time…3rd time all animals immediately are removed to accredited sanctuaries. Owners never allowed to have any association with any species of animals again!
    Why is this so hard…It is the animals that are the ultimate beings here! Stop with the bribery and threats and promises.

  2. Karen Mckay says:

    roadside zoos – seriously why are these hell holes still a thing?? Ban them competely and any foudn operating, the owners should have every single asset seized to pay for animal care. They wont need it if they are in jail.

  3. Barton Dixon says:

    “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” Mahatma Gandhi
    “Compassion for animals is intimately connected with goodness of character; and it may be confidently asserted that he who is cruel to animals cannot be a good man.” Authur Schopenhauer
    “If you have men who will exclude any of God’s creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity, you will have men who will deal likewise with their fellow men.” St. Francis of Assisi

  4. lynn woods says:

    why are these horrible places still allowed to be.. but of course look at the president you’ve got he is going to allow big games hunters to bring their elephant parts into the states while we’re trying to stop the hunting he’s doing this because his sons love to kill anything that breaths can you imagine the elephants that will be killed for only their heads or feet or any parts they can cut off this sickening all animals are god’s creatures and should be treated that way pretty soon we’ll have to go a museum to find out what an animal looked like

  5. Lauriie Wright says:

    Deer Haven Mini Zoo
    Mr. Bradley M Gerwig Jr, Owner
    12312 Detour Road
    Keymar, Maryland 21757

    Dear Mr. Gerwig~

    I’m writing to urge you to retire all animals at Deer Haven Mini Zoo to reputable sanctuaries. I was appalled to learn of the deplorable conditions endured by these animals.
    • Animals confined to tiny, pitiful cages
    • An arctic fox with signs of skin disease
    • A quail who appeared lethargic and ill
    • A bobcat who paced repeatedly from apparent psychological distress
    • A pig with hooves so overgrown that he seemed reluctant to walk
    • Lemurs with raw, irritated skin at the base of their tails
    • A coatimundi with patches of hair loss
    All living beings deserve to live a healthy life and not to be forced to endure captivity inside small, filthy cages. Please make the compassionate decision to allow these animals to spend the remainder of their lives in naturalistic habitats that are suited to their needs. The animals at your facility deserve better than to spend their days languishing in unsanitary conditions for the sake of human entertainment. From what I’ve learned, an organization has offered to help place the animals in reputable sanctuaries at no cost to you, but the offer has been refused.

    At a reputable sanctuary, animals have the opportunity to roam, forage, climb, and play in vast habitats and receive the quality care that they deserve. If you care about the well-being of these animals, you’ll understand that your facility cannot meet their unique and complex needs and that they deserve to live in a true sanctuary.

    I found a recent complaint dated 03/28/2017 with the Better Business Bureau regarding Deer Haven Mini Zoo that indicated the animals appeared hungry, they are living in their own filth, they appeared sick and overall it was a very unpleasurable experience for the patron. As more and more people realize that zoos are no longer any fun, especially for the animals, this industry will collapse. With the offer to place the animals in sanctuaries, it will free up immeasurable time and expense to you and may lead to a more profitable business that does not include the keeping and displaying of animals. This would be a prudent decision for you as well as for the animals. Lily the bear was a great start but please don’t stop there.

  6. kay allan says:


  7. Roadside zoos are not zoos and we all know this, even Mr Perdue knows these are barbaric and horrific places for animals to be trapped in. But will he act to do anything about this ‘zoo’ or any other road side animal attraction? We need strong laws and strong enforcement for animals forced into these situations and we need places like this hole in the ground shut down for good. The animals suffer so much in these places – improper care, no vet care, bad food, horrid cages, horrid owners. SHUT IT DOWN! Then do your job and shut them all down.

  8. Has more and more people learn about how animal suffer in institutions like these, the less people want to participate in them. Please do whats right!

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