PETA files lawsuit against Pymatuning Deer Park, alleging mistreatment of endangered animals

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The lawsuit alleges that the park has mistreated big cats, lemurs and other animals protected under the Endangered Species Act

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JAMESTOWN, Pa. (WKBN) – The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and the Animal Legal Defense Fund filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court of the Western District of Pennsylvania on Wednesday against Pymatuning Deer Park.

The lawsuit alleges that the park has mistreated big cats, lemurs and other animals protected under the Endangered Species Act.

It states that Pymatuning Deer Park failed to give proper veterinary care to a tiger that was shot to death without receiving a physical exam. The lawsuit also accuses the park of holding lemurs in a small, barren enclosure and confining a macaw in a cramped cage.

Both groups allege mistreatment at Pymatuning Deer Park constitutes a public nuisance under state law. They’re asking the court to get the animals moved to other facilities.

PETA notified Pymatuning Deer Park in December of its intent to sue with a letter accusing the facility of violating the Endangered Species Act. The organization reaffirmed its intent after a fire killed two animals at the park in February.

“This disgusting facility has shot animals, let them die in a fire, and caused scores of others to suffer—and this must stop,” said PETA Foundation Deputy General Counsel for Captive Animal Law Enforcement Brittany Peet. “The plaintiffs look forward to bringing Pymatuning Deer Park before a judge and getting the animals to suitable facilities where their lives can finally begin.”

“The animals exploited by Pymatuning, including endangered species, are kept in conditions that are unacceptable and illegal,” said Animal Legal Defense Fund Executive Director Stephen Wells. “State and federal animal protection laws exist so that animals won’t be forced to live without adequate veterinary care in barren, depressing enclosures. We will seek to enforce these laws to allow them to engage in their natural behavior.”

Inspection reports from the U.S. Department of Agriculture show the park has not had any critical compliance issues since 2015, when investigators found several issues involving cleanliness, housing facilities, pest control and space requirements. You can read all of the facility’s inspection reports on the USDA website.

A representative for Pymatuning Deer Park said they were unable to comment on the lawsuit on Wednesday since they did not receive a copy of it. He did release the following statement:

“The Park is in compliance with all laws and regulations that govern its operation and the animals under its care. We look forward to safely welcoming families to the Park for the 2021 season.”

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