Raiders of Noah’s Ark

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, October 1996:

BOSTON–Quick-hit unannounced inspections of zoos in Florida and Nova Scotia won summer headlines for the World Society for the Protection of Animals, the Born Free Foundation, and Zoocheck Canada, brought action against the Steel City Petting Zoo in Cottondale, Florida, for alleged cruelty and multiple violations of the Animal Welfare Act, and perhaps backfired to some extent, too, when implications that American Zoo Association-accredited facilities were also substandard were not sustained.

The inspections were the first phase of a joint WSPA/BFF Zoo Inquiry campaign, in planning since a similar series struck at inferior zoos throughout Europe in 1994. Zoo Inquiry urges the public and news media to seek either improvement or closure of bad zoos, and includes distribution of a questionaire for zoo-goers, published on August 6, six weeks after the Florida findings were disclosed.

Accounts based on a June 18 press conference WSPA and BFF held in Tampa made prominent mention that AZA-accredited sites such as Sea World Orlando and Busch Gardens in Tampa Bay were included in a tour by BFF board member John Gripper, DVM, which according to a foreword to his report authored by WSPA and BFF chief executives Andrew Dickson and Will Travers found that, “Only two of the 21 zoos he inspected were providing their animals with an environment that he felt might pass” inspection under the standards of the British Zoo Licensing Act.

However, Busch Gardens was one of the two zoos that Gripper said would pass, while the major criticism of Sea World was simply that it exhibits marine mammals in a performing-and-contact situation. Of Sea World, Gripper concluded, “Expert independent advice should be sought to determine if Sea World reaches the USDA and U.K. standards for the keeping of cetaceans.”

As critics quickly pointed out, Sea World is routinely inspected and approved by the USDA, so obviously does meet USDA standards; Gripper reprinted the USDA exhibitor regulations as an appendix to his report, indicating acquaintance with them; and as an official Zoo Inspector under the British Zoo Licensing Act since 1981, he supposedly was “expert independent advice” on the U.K. standards.

Taking a more cautious approach, the Zoo Inquiry literature released on August 6 stipulated that “accredited zoos received higher marks” from Gripper, adding that, “For the most part, AZA-accredited zoos and safari parks are meeting their animals’ needs through natural habitat enclosures with environmental enrichment.” The AZA itself is among the harshest critics of common zoo conditions, accrediting only 174 of the 1,937 USDA-licensed animal exhibition sites, and since November 1991 has virtually stopped the sale of “surplus” by member facilities to unaccredited zoos, canned hunts, and other private owners, one focus of WSPA and BFF concern. In several of the few recent documented cases, the zoos and the animals were victims of fraud.

The traffic in animals from roadside zoos, however, has never been stronger, as exotic pet fads and booming canned hunts have made selling “surplus” a lucrative sideline for operators whose breeding isn’t regulated by AZA-managed Species Survival Plans–which exist in part to prevent the births of “genetically redundant” animals.

Why Florida?

Gripper and other WSPA/BFF inspectors are eventually to visit zoos all over the U.S. and Canada. They started in Florida, the August 6 WSPA release said, because, “In a state which is a magnet for tourism, WSPA and BFF expected to find some of the best zoos America has to offer.”

Florida is in fact the long-recognized hub of the roadside zoo industry. Of the 1,937 USDA-licensed animal exhibitors, 230 are in Florida, 209 in California, 153 in Texas, 112 in Illinois, and 109 in New York. Pennsyl-vania has 74; no other state has morethan 60.

Many zoos on the WSPA/BFF tour list have been repeatedly cited by the USDA for substandard conditions, and have been targets of previous humane protests–among them the Everglades Wonder Gardens in Bonita Springs, fighting correction-or-closure orders since October 1992, and Noell’s Ark Chimp Farm, shut down for eight months in 1992-1993 due to violations of the Animal Welfare Act.

One of the two zoos Gripper found acceptable, Jungle Larry’s African Safari, drew furor in March 1991, after TV stations aired a video of handler David Tetzlaff breaking a thick stick over the head and neck of a caged leopard.

The Steel City Petting Zoo, not on the original 20-site WSPA/BFF itinerary, was added at the insistence of wildlife
rehabilitator May Lenzer, who was appalled at what she saw there in a 1995 visit. “After exhausting all the bureaucrats I could think of,” Lenzer told ANIMAL PEOPLE, “I got in touch with Roger Caras, president of the American SPCA. He referred me to ASPCA wildlife programs coordinator Kathi Travers, and my file was presented to John Walsh of WSPA in Boston. Dr. Gripper was in Florida at the time, and visited the zoo with a camera crew.”

Visiting the Steel City Petting Zoo on March 27, Gripper disclosed his findings at the June 18 press conference. Eight days later, owner Romulus Scalf, 54, was jailed in lieu of $10,000 bond for allegedly feeding live puppies to snakes.
“I mean, which is best?” Scalf reportedly asked Mike Cazalas of the Panama City News Herald a few days earlier. “Just take them out here and set them beside the highway and let cars run over them, and they lay there out on the road in the sun for hours dying? Give them to the humane society and let them bust them in the head and
throw them in an incinerator? Or give them to the snake and let the snake get a meal off of it?”

A USDA administrative complaint against Scalf for multiple alleged Animal Welfare Act violations was already pending.
However, International Primate Protection League president Shirley McGreal reported on September 17 that “a usually reliable source” had told her that “budget-juggling may result in the elimination by the Florida Freshwater Fish and Game Commission of the funds that cover all inspections of wild animals held in captivity in the state of Florida.” If it really happens, the chances of other roadside zoo proprietors being prosecuted for cruelty will be substantially smaller.

Nova Scotia

Not involved in the Florida inspections, Zoocheck Canada clashed on September 9 with just-retired Nova Scotia SPCA provincial inspector Don Marsden over Gripper’s findings at the Oaklawn Farm Zoo in Aylesford, the Upper Clements Wildlife Park in Annapolis, the Provincial Wildlife Park in Shubenacadie, and the Acres of the Golden Pheasant Bird Park in Truro. Gripper found them each substandard. Marsden told Chris Lambie of the Halifax Daily News that Ontario facilities are worse. As author of Captive Animals In Ontario, a 1987 report on five notorious zoos that might have been a model for the recent WSPA/BFF reports, Zoocheck Canada director Rob Laidlaw has been acutely aware of the shortcomings of some Ontario zoos for a decade, but doesn’t see them as in any way excusing Nova Scotia zoos.

Marsden, meanwhile, had apparent major violations of humane standards in his own resume. “Although it is opposed by Canada’s Veterinary Medical Association and the Federation of Humane Societies in Sydney,” the May/June 1996 edition of Humane News reported, reprinting an appeal for protest issued by “Nova Scotia activists” via other humane
groups, “the Nova Scotia SPCA uses electrocution to kill its unwanted dogs. The dog is restrained in a homemade metal box and an electrode is attached to its nose.” According to the report, “the Nova Scotia SPCA provincial office recently announced it has no plans to use the more humane, and more expensive, injection for euthanasia.”

Gripper’s inspections began a year behind schedule. The inspections were originally to have been done by British WSPA staffer Stephen Ormrod, a globally recognized zoo expert, and his longtime friend and colleague Sue Pressman, a U.S. wildlife consultant.

Ormrod, however, severely depressed after viewing zoo conditions in eastern Europe, killed himself in May 1995. Pressman withdrew. The project was reorganized under a steering committee including Dickson, Walsh, and Jason Black of WSPA; Will Travers, Virginia McKenna, and Gripper of BFF; Paul Irwin and Silah Smith of the Humane Society
of the U.S.; Kathi Travers (not related to Will Travers) of the American SPCA; and Carter Luke of the Massachusetts SPCA.

Controversy over how the findings were handled caused the Society of Environmental Journalists to add a session on zoo ethics to the mid-October SEJ annual conference, drafting ANIMAL PEOPLE editor Merritt Clifton to moderate. Hosted by the St. Louis Zoo, the session will include a tour of the zoo’s Species Survival Plan facilities. Questions from SEJ members will be answered by assistant zoo director William Boever, who also has background in humane work,
director of animal health and research Robert Miller, research coordinator Cheryl Asa, and Kent Robertson and Curt Ransom, director and assistant director of the Humane Society of Missouri, both of whom have extensive experience in probing exhibition-related animal cruelty.
Similar media self-scrutiny and self-education efforts are reportedly underway in Japan, where Virginia McKenna drew attention to the plight of animals at five of the 97 Japanese zoos during early September. Many substandard and abusive situations on McKenna’s itinerary had been shown on TV and in newspaper photos, Japanese reporters admitted, but not in a critical context, partly because Japanese editors try to avoid “negative” coverage of public institutions, and partly because of general lack of knowledge about the needs of animals.

One zoo getting good marks from the advocacy group inspectors is the Kabul Zoo in war-ravaged Afghanistan. Once one of Asia’s best, the Kabul Zoo lost 60 animals including a herd of elephants during the most intense fighting in 1993-1994, but still has four bears, two wolves, two wild boars, several monkeys, a handful of rare birds, and a pair of lions, maintained by keeper Aga Akbar, who lived with them during the 18 months the zoo was itself a battleground. The male lion killed a soldier during the fighting and was disfigured two days later when the soldier’s brother threw a
grenade at him. Other soldiers shared their rations with the animals. Under the circumstances, John Joseph of WSPA told Kathy Gannon of Associated Press, Akbar runs the zoo “the way we would like to see a zoo run if it weren’t in shambles. What Akbar lacks in expertise, he more than makes up for in compassion and care.”

Far East

Not all WSPA and BFF zoo inspections get publicity. Acting as Far East representative for BFF, roving as far as Europe, John Wedderburn of the Hong Kong-based humane group EarthCare visited at least a dozen zoos September 1995 and July 1996, sharing his notes with ANIMAL PEOPLE.

In Vienna, Austria, Wedderburn visited the Schonbrunn Palace Zoo, reputedly the world’s oldest. “The design and layout are aesthetically pleasing from a human point of view,” Wedderburn wrote, “but for the animals,” who “were all in good physical condition,” it must be “like living in shop windows.” Elephants “chained up and bobbing and swaying” were to get a new “elephant park,” then under construction.

In China, Wedderburn described the Beijing Zoo as “a beautiful park full of mature trees and miserable animals, but not
as bad as most Chinese zoos.”

He noted rapid expansion during several trips to the Guangzou Zoo, but the many new cages “are uniformly bleak with concrete walls and floors and iron bars,” he reported. “Most of the animals who were not sleeping showed distressing signs of zoochosis,” or stereotyped behavior. The zoo features circus-style performances, and is adding a dolphinarium, he continued. Offering advisory help, Wedderburn was told by senior veterinarian Chen Hong Han that they were “only interested in receiving help with new reproductive techniques.”

Wedderburn found similar conditions at the Jiaozuo Zoo and Zhengzhou Zoo in Henan province, and in Shanghai at Yeung Po Park, the Shanghai Zoo, and the newly opened Shanghai Safari Park, which at 462 acres is almost twice the size of the Bronx Zoo. Wedderburn preferred a fourth Shanghai facility, the Xi Jiao Sea Life Park, built as an aquarium but–after the fish died–converted into tennis courts and a botanical garden.

On repeated visits to the Thu Le Park Zoo in Hanoi, Vietnam, Wedderburn was horrified by bobbing and swaying elephants, the clouded leopard’s cage, which he termed “the most featureless, dank jail cell you could imagine,” and the rapid decline of a maned wolf, obtained from the Berlin Tier Park in Germany, who couldn’t take the Vietnamese heat and humidity. “I think sending this wolf to Hanoi was an absolute disgrace,” Wedderburn opined. “Berlin
should be severely censured by the World Zoo Federation.” As to the elephants, he said, “Training may be cruel and demeaning, but it’s better than having no stimulation at all.”

At the Taipei Zoo, in Taiwan, Wedderburn found “cages reasonably large compared with other Asian zoos,” except in the Nocturnal Animal House, which he termed “a house of zoochotic horrors,” where foxes, raccoons, and many exotic cats “frantically pace in cages far too small for them.”

Also in Taiwan, Wedderburn observed of the Gaoxiong Zoo: “As high security prisons go, not too bad. One of the tigers jumped up at me when I got too close and seemed to enjoy the game. An elephant took obvious delight in throwing leaves and small stones at me. The pythons were presumably happy to have live chickens sharing their cage. The chickens seemed happy, foraging for food, apparently unaware of their cell mates. The keepers seemed to have a
good attitude. One lady hosed and brushed the sea lions with obvious pleasure all around.”

Apart from the Gaoxiong Zoo staff, however, Wedderburn found that, “Conver-sations with local people showed no sign of sympathy with animals. Street scenes of food animals, pets for sale and stray dogs were very depressing. Fortunately,” he added, “I did not see any manacled orangutans,” often exhibited on street corners until recent years. “Let’s hope they are a thing of the past.”
The best zoo in Asia, according to Wedderburn, is the Singapore Zoo, where conditions are monitored by western-influenced animal rights activists led by Guna Subramaniam. Their work may increase the determination of zoo staff, many of them trained in the west, to meet high standards. “Many of the animals do not have nearly enough space, and lack their environmental needs,” Wedderburn wrote, “but the zoo is obviously making huge efforts at enrichment, hammering home all the right messages.”

Increasing involvement of U.S. zoos with their Chinese counterparts could help improve standards. So could the example of the Moscow Zoo, where according to Ron Popeski of the Reuter news agency, “Tiny cages with rusting steel bars have mostly been replaced by spacious, landscaped enclosures” for Amur tigers, Tibetan bears, and American coyotes, regarded as mythic symbols of America despite their rarity in U.S. zoos. The rebuilding, begun
just this year and still underway, has brought record crowds, despite the first-ever imposition of an admission fee, reaffirming the first precept AZA teaches of successful zookeeping: if the animals look happy, zoos prosper.

EDITORIAL: Peace talk

From ANIMAL PEOPLE,  May 1996:

One of our cover stories this month deals with the ongoing process of strategic disengagement
, on both sides, from the 200-year-old battle over animal use in laboratory research ­­not as a matter of either side abandoning goals, but as a matter of recognizing that common goals may be achieved more readily if the conflict is less intense.

ANIMAL PEOPLE over the past year has advanced 10 suggestions for strategic disengagement in a manner which would simultaneously meet the major practical demands of the animal rights community and the major needs of biomedical research. They are based largely on inclinations already evident among both activists and researchers. Read more

LETTERS: San Francisco SPCA wins hands down

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, October 1995:
San Francisco SPCA wins hands down

In our continuing war against more legislation and law enforcement aimed at pet owners, we sent a recent update of our pamphlet 20 Questions to the Progressive Animal Welfare Society in Lynnwood, Washington. We had taken data from the Animal Legislation Awareness Network report entitled An Analysis of King County, WA Animal Control Ordinance 10423. We received a call from PAWS’ Lisa Wathne, who offered to send us the 1994 Annual Report of King County Animal Control, which thanks to her, we now have. The euthanasia numbers in the two reports agree.

Our conclusion from analysis of the ALAN report, which covered just one shelter in King county, was that, “There is
certainly no evidence that the tougher legislation has made significant improvement in reducing euthanasias.”

As we have been challenged by a number of people on this conclusion, we were very anxious to see if the King County report would cause us to change our stance on such matters as high license fees, door-to-door license enforcement, and public awareness campaigns to encourage licensing, all of which are central features of the celebrated King County anti-pet overpopulation ordinance.What have we found? The report claims, “Dramatic initial success allowed for the continuation of the programs…Figures for this second annual report show further improvements in all areas
targeted by Ordinance 10423.”

But the program cost, for 1994, was $243,000, and the revenue obtained by license fee increases was $200,000. The program cost much more than it brought it. And consider how many animal lives were saved. In 1993, there were 9,032 shelter euthanasias, and in 1994, only 8,738, a one-year reduction of 3.26%. But in the
same period, according to statistics ANIMAL PEOPLE published in June 1994, the national average euthanasia reduction rate was 5.88%.

Without a program, the rest of the nation reduced euthanasias at almost twice the King County pace.

And now for the shocker. King County euthanized 294 less animals, at a cost of $826.53 per life saved. Dividing total budget by adoptions, the San Francisco SPCA spends, on average, $600 per animal adopted, and kills no adoptable or treatable animals, while running 54 other programs that help reduce animal suffering throughout the city. Even if you only count the net loss from the King County program, $146 per animal saved, that could cover free neutering and licensing for 294 animals with savings of $50 per animal left over.

There are several other shelters in King County besides the county animal control shelter, and we don’t have complete shelter statistics for the whole jurisdiction, hence we are unable to compare the King County results with national norms in any meaningful way.

But we did call PAWS to verify our interpretation of the cost figures. Checking further with King County Animal Control, we were told that the first year and a half was more expensive because they had start-up costs, and there were some license tracking problems that may have inflated the figures, and they expect better results this year. The only firm conclusion we can draw is that the King County ordinance was correctly evaluated in our original statement. The new
statistics only make our evaluation more negative.

By contrast, the SF/SPCA has maintained an 18.5% annual reducation rate in euthanasias, citywide, and is against mandatory licensing. Why? Because the poor are unable to pay high license fees, and are consequently afraid to use low-cost neutering programs through which noncompliance with licensing requirements might be detected, making them vulnerable to fines that they can’t afford, either.

The following table compares the percentage of animals entering shelters who leave alive via redemption, adoption, and euthanasia, together with our estimate of maximum possible success:

National King S. F. Ultimate
% redeemed 16.6% 15.6% 10.6% 10.6%
% adopted 20.9% 17.1% 53.9% 63.9%
% euth. 62.5% 68.0% 35.6% 25.5%

We do not have shelter statistics for the whole of King County, so cannot make a comparison based on national normalized data. We do have the numbers of pets entering shelters and euthanized per year per 1,000 human residents for the U.S. as a whole, San Francisco, and Washington state, which are as follow:

National Washington San Francisco
Entries: 29.97 30.82 16.70
Euthanized: 20.38 18.49 6.18

San Francisco wins hands down in the fight to reduce euthanasias, and the San Francisco polices are directly opposite to the tough-law/blame-the-public/more-animal-control-with-door-to-door, etcetera: less legislation, not more; an end to mandatory licensing, not door-to-door enforcement; and more service, not more lobbying.

We also note that the King County neutering voucher program is a dismal failure, with only 633 vouchers redeemed (11.2%) of the 5,654 handed out. Our tiny organization in rural Butte County, California, achieves that much. This indicates to us that poor people, those the voucher program should target, are not licensing their animals because of the fees involved, and are then afraid to use the vouchers. It is not clear to the public whether the $25 King County vouchers are a rebate on the $55 unaltered license fee or are given without requiring the purchase of a license. And for all the effort of door-to-door canvasing, the King County licensing compliance rate is still officially estimated to be about 33%. That two-thirds of the pet-owning public do not support this program should send a message to elected representatives.
–Lewis R. Plumb
Promotion of Animal Welfare Society
Paradise, California
Get a clue!

I feel that higher licensing fees create an ever-smaller base of support for pet population control programs as compliance drops. A review of the Sacramento animal control budget indicated that license revenue dropped by $20,000 when the fee went up 33% in 1993. Only canvasing brought revenues back up. Yet animal control stated
that they didn’t think doubling the current unaltered licensing fee would harm license sales. I predict compliance will drop and revenue too, and animal control will do more canvasing, have increased enforcement costs, and seek a bigger budget. Am I the only person who sees that with the majority of licenses being sold at the lower altered rate, and salary plus overhead and vehicle costs for animal control officers close to $70,000 per year here, that canvasing is
not cost-effective?

The poor can’t afford to neuter or license, or reclaim their animals from animal control, which costs nearly $100 if an unaltered animal isn’t licensed, so the poor relinquish lost pets. Then animal control comes back and says, “See, we have all these unclaimed animals, which cost us money. Aren’t people awful? Let’s raise fees to force them to be responsible.” Meanwhile the poor pick up more animals from the readily available pool of free animals.

Animal control policies perpetuate the problem. Debating the new Sacramento licensing structure, I said that your idea of “Mobile vets at combat pay” (editorial, March 1994) is the answer. An HSUS representative said flat out that anyone who doesn’t have $50 for neutering shouldn’t keep pets. I find such an attitude extremely inhumane. I have been poor, fortunately temporarily, and I am offended that someone cannot understand that there are people who don’t have credit or a spare $50, but need the comfort that pets provide. Kim Sturla of the Fund for Animals committed what I consider a Freudian slip when she said, “We need to spay and neuter people on welfare,” tee hee hee.

I went through all the information about positive incentives versus coercion, the San Francisco Adoption Pact, cost/benefit of neuter/release, etcetera, with the animal control director, who admitted that most animal pick-ups are from poor neighborhoods. But she knew someone who was middle-class, whose cat had kittens by accident, so out the window went my statistics on frequency and probability.

As to the San Francisco Adoption Pact, she said she completely disagrees with Richard Avanzino and doesn’t believe they really have zero euthanasia of healthy animals. This is widespread, as are the beliefs that the SF/SPCA has city animal control do all the killing so that they can look good, and that it’s only because SF/SPCA has money that they can do what they do.

Get a clue! They have the money because people support an organization that demonstrates effectiveness. San Francisco has proven that proper policy and management can solve the pet overpopulation problem. I am frustrated that money is wasted, people are wrongly blamed, and animals are needlessly dying because of demonstrably bad policy.
–Margaret Anne Cleek
Sacramento, California

Easy targets: Did HSUS expose zoo links to canned hunts or just play to the grandstand?

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, October 1994:

WASHINGTON D.C.–Announcing that a three-year probe “has implicated the nation’s best-known zoos as suppliers of exotic animals to hunting ranches,” the Humane Society of the U.S. has made recent headlines across the country–but the facts fall short of the sensational charges.

HSUS alleged that 24 zoos had sold animals to so-called canned hunts. Of the 24, however, seven had already terminated links to canned hunts that were disclosed years ago by other investigators. The allegations against another 10 zoos remain unsubstantiated more than two months after they were named by the periodical HSUS Reports, despite HSUS investigator Richard Farinato’s August 24 promise to ANIMAL PEOPLE that details would be forthcoming. Several of the zoos deny making such sales; one of them, the Knoxville Zoo, had cancelled such a sale before it was completed.
Of the seven zoos that were implicated in substantiated sales to canned hunts, only two, the San Francisco Zoo and Busch Gardens in Tampa, Florida, were involved in either multiple transactions or the sale of more than four animals. Only a handful of sales occurred within the past two years. Only the Mesker Park Zoo in Evansville, Illinois, acknowledged awareness of having sold an animal who might be hunted.

The HSUS allegations were amplified by an August 19 U.S. Newswire statement, timed to boost the August 20 introduction of H.R. 4497, the “Captive Exotic Animal Protection Act of 1994,” by Rep. George Brown (D-California) and 15 co-sponsors. Adapted from the “Canned Hunt Prohibition Law of 1992,” which died in the last Congress, the bill would ban interstate and international traffic in exotic wildlife to stock hunting ranches–many of which are essentially shooting pens. The bill has virtually no chance of passage this late in the current Congress, which will close in mid-October, and the principal author, Rep. Don Edwards (D-California) is retiring at the close of the session.”As enablers of the canned hunting industry,” charged HSUS vice president for governmental affairs Wayne Pacelle, “the zoos are as guilty as the hunters who pay to pull the trigger.”

Returned American Zoo and Aquarium Association executive director Sydney Butler, “Mr. Pacelle knows full well that the AZA is vehemently opposed to canned hunts and holds any violations of its policy as a direct ethics code violation, which can result in the loss of accreditation and membership.” Butler said AZA would study H.R. 4497 before issuing a position on it, but indicated that he saw no reason to oppose it.


As of mid-September, AZA spokesperson Jane Ballentine told ANIMAL PEOPLE, “HSUS has not written to our Ethics Board requesting an investigation into their allegations. Many reporters have wondered why, since they are making such a huge deal out of this issue. We can’t help but have our own internal theories.”

Farinato and HSUS vice president John Grandy informed ANIMAL PEOPLE editor Merritt Clifton in April at the White Oak Conference on Zoos and Animal Protection that they were preparing an anti-zoo offensive for this fall–regardless of developments at the conference, which brought together a select group of leaders in the captive wildlife and animal protection communities. After the first day of the conference found most participants in agreement on major
issues, Grandy and Farinato privately urged Clifton to “lead the attack” the next day, claiming that for political reasons they and Pacelle had to “maintain cover” until fall. Clifton responded that his role was to report the news, not to make it, and that the HSUS strategy showed bad faith–especially after the AZA had repeatedly strengthened its ethics code prohibition on selling animals to canned hunts, over the objections of some highly influential members.

HSUS pledged to fight canned hunts as far back as April 25, 1973, when then-HSUS zoological representative Sue Pressman wrote to longtime Kansas humane activist Mona Lefebvre that the organization was engaged in “major investigative” work on the subject, with the goal of getting “some laws” passed. Pressman, still outspokenly critical of canned hunts, long since left HSUS, and now heads the Association of Sanctuaries. HSUS meanwhile produced neither major revelations nor legislation for more than 20 years, and in fact was conspicuously absent on November 19, 1991, when Congressional Friends of Animals hosted a briefing on canned hunts for fellow members of Congress. Participants included representatives from AZA (then known as the American Association of Zoological Parks and Aquariums), Friends of Animals, American SPCA president Roger Caras, and Fund for Animals president Cleveland Amory.

In the interim the then-growing commerce between zoos and canned hunts came to light through the work of investigative reporters including Clifton, who published frequent exposes of the traffic in both U.S. and Canadian media between 1981 and 1991. AAZPA responded with increasingly strict guidelines discouraging such transactions, and in 1990 backed words with deeds by stripping Arkansas wildlife broker Earl Tatum of his accreditation, for officially undisclosed reasons, just after CBS 60 Minutes revealed that Tatum and another dealer, James Fouts, of Kansas, had sold animals from the San Diego Zoo and the Oklahoma City Zoo at auctions frequented by canned hunt proprietors. Fouts, fined $2,500 by the USDA in 1985 for illegally importing a parrot, was never accredited by AAZPA. Informed of the dealers’ canned hunt link by 60 Minutes, both zoos severed relations with Tatum and Fouts in November
1989–two months before the 60 Minutes segment aired.

Already embarrassed, the San Diego Zoo was hit again on the eve of the September 1991 AAZPA annual meeting–held in San Diego–when former San Diego Zoo elephant handler Lisa Landres, working for FoA, disclosed a 1985 deal that sent 22 animals directly to a canned hunt in Oregon. FoA also revealed several one-and-two-animal transactions between the San Diego Zoo and other alleged canned hunt suppliers–Jergen Schultz, co-owner of the
Catskill Game Farm, just south of Albany, New York, and Arizona auction dealer Pat Hoctor. Hoctor also publishes Exotic Animal News, a periodical advertising the availability of animals to an audience including canned hunt proprietors. The Oregon canned hunt was already defunct, and the San Diego Zoo no longer had any
relationship with Hoctor. It immediately ceased dealings with the Catskill Game Farm, to which it had often sold animals since 1952.

Zoos crack down

The September 1991 AAZPA meeting also came just three weeks after publication of a widely distributed and quoted Clifton expose of canned hunts and the zoo connection, crediting AAZPA for progress against canned hunts, but noting the ambivalent relationship between leading AAZPA members and major hunting ranches, several of which belong to AAZPA Species Survival Plans. Jacksonville Zoo director Dale Tuttle, a key figure in both AAZPA and SSP administration, defends hunting ranches as a way to make species conservation pay for itself.

Finally, however, the balance tipped against Tuttle. “AAZPA strongly opposes disposal of exotic wildlife to individuals
solely for the purpose of shooting,” the group resolved. “Specimens should not be sold, traded, or otherwise transferred to any organization or individual for the purpose of sport, trophy, or any other form of hunting. Such action constitutes a violation of the AAZPA Code of Professional Ethics.”

The San Diego Zoo adopted a similar policy, strengthening a 1976 ban on selling animals to nonaccredited facilities. Since November 1991 the San Diego Zoo has required every private purchaser to sign a contract stipulating that the animals will not be hunted, and that if a ranch begins to allow hunting, as the Dale Priour ranch in Texas did after obtaining two animals from the San Diego Zoo, it must return the former zoo animals and their offspring.

Further, president Douglas Myers pledged, “We will compile a list of known hunting ranches to serve as a red flag guide, giving names and addresses for us to avoid when searching for proper places to send zoo animals. We will check regularly to find out who has applied for federal permits to cull protected species. We will cross-reference that list with the list of private facilities receiving zoo animals. This will provide a starting point for double-checking on who is allowing hunts and who will not be sent zoo animals.”

Only once since 1991 has a former San Diego Zoo animal turned up at a canned hunt–a European boar acquired by Robert Naud of Brigham, Quebec. According to San Diego Zoo public relations director Jeff Jouett, the boar “was sent to a man named Ed Novak, of Cairo, New York. The animal next was sold to Mark Smith at Bradwood Farms in Reddick, Florida. Bradwood Farms evidently went through a bankruptcy/foreclosure proceeding. That’s where Naud picked up the boar, to the best of our knowledge. All of these transactions occurred prior to November 1991. Each person involved–Novak, Smith, and Naud–was promptly notified of our disgust and distress, and all business dealings with each were immediately ended. We also notified AAZPA of our findings so that other zoos may be aware of the names and reputations of the people involved.”

The 1991 AAZPA and San Diego Zoo actions severed the zoo traffic to canned hunts, for the most part, though many more older deals were disclosed during the next year by FoA, the Houston Chronicle, and the activist group Voice for Animals, based in San Antonio, Texas. Most compromised, then and now, was the San Antonio Zoo, whose board of directors, Voice for Animals reported, includes alleged hunting ranch owners David Bamberger, Rugeley Ferguson, Mrs. Jack Guenther, Buddy Jordan, Betty (Mrs. Robert) Kelso, Leon Kopecky, Red McCombs, Scott Petty Jr., and Louis Stumberg.

McCombs, VfA charged, lent his address to alleged seller of zoo animals to canned hunts Larry Johnson. Jordan, whose name resurfaced in the HSUS investigation, now denies involvement with canned hunts, but boasted in a 1989
interview with the San Francisco television news station KPIX that he made “big money” selling animals to such hunts, and was named as a supplier to canned hunts by the Houston Chronicle in 1992. He also admitted recently to Tampa Tribune reporter Nanette Woitas that while he does not sell the animals he breeds from former zoo stock
“direct to a hunting range,” he doesn’t necessarily know where they all end up. In February 1992 Jordan reportedly sold $40,000 worth of animals to the Triple 7 ranch–a canned hunt where as many as 2,500 exotic animals are killed each year.
Kelso is wife of Robert Kelso, whose Auerhahn Ranch purportedly hosts guest hunters from Safari Club International;
bought 40 hooved exotic animals from the San Antonio Zoo between 1985 and 1991; and in 1992 was discovered by the Houston Chronicle to have purchased animals from the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, the National Zoo, and the Philadelphia Zoo. All three zoos demanded the return of the animals upon learning of Kelso’s involvement in hunting, but seven antelope obtained from Cheyenne were already dead, four of them supposedly from causes other than hunting. The Bamberger link is most problematic for AZA. On the one hand, Bamberger runs one of the biggest and best-known hunting ranches in the U.S.; on the other, he belongs to the SSP for the Arabian oryx, managed by Tuttle.

In March 1992 the AAZPA board moved to further strengthen the anti-hunting guideline. According to an internal discussion paper summarizing the debate that ensued throughout the next year, “The word solely” rendered the September 1991 statement “meaningless as a guideline for professional behavior,” because some zoos were  claiming they sold animals to canned hunts “for money, not solely for shooting,” or “well, mostly for game viewing,” or “for
breeding, not solely for shooting.”

In May 1993, the board adopted the present ethical statement, affirming that it, “strongly opposes the sale, trade,
or transfer of animals from zoos and aquariums to organizations or individuals which allow the hunting of animals directly from or bred at zoos and aquariums.”
Achieving passage of the statement, the discussion paper indicates, required overcoming three categories of resistance. First, it noted, both zoos and the public must realize that, “The unpredictability of sex ratio, fecundity or the behavioral adequacy of prospective animal offspring means that significant surplus will be produced in any zoo or aquarium not being managed for extinction,” at least at the current level of reproductive science.

Second, the paper explained, zookeepers often suffer from the same illusions about a mythical animal-heaven on a farm somewhere that afflicts the general public: “Zoos that have sent surplus animals to a place where they might be hunted have usually done so to afford them a longer lifespan and, perhaps, the chance to reproduce. Payment for such surplus is helpful to the maintenance of long-term endangered species propagation programs–but it also encourages the false belief that zoos and aquariums create unnecessary surplus to make money. Usually unexpressed, but perhaps most important,” the paper added, “it is both difficult and disheartening for zoo and aquarium biologists who spend their lives caring for animals to have to destroy them. No matter how humane, culling has seemed an extremely poor alternative in view of the fancied benefits of disposal to a ranch.”

The paper pointed out that the reality of hunting ranches is often “the badly aimed wounding of tame animals lured by feeding bells and buckets of corn–or even the shooting of big cats in cages. AAZPA members have observed,” it added, “that few such hunting organizations can provide those who send them animals any assurance of professional animal management or humane animal care.”

Finally, the paper noted, “Only six or seven ranches currently sustain SSP animals or participate in endangered species programs. Nevertheless, the potential of their vast acreages to extend zoo efforts for vanishing ungulates must not be overlooked…Some of these ranches may permit hunting of surplus exotic ungulates as well as deer, turkeys, and other native species.”

As a concession to the Tuttle faction, the AZA ethics code accordingly “does not apply to those individuals or organizations which allow hunting of indigenous game species (but not from zoo and aquarium stocks) and established exotic species such as (but not limited to) whitetailed deer, quail, rabbits, geese, and such long-introduced species as boar, ring-necked pheasant, chukar, trout, etc.”

The Catskill Game Farm

Since the current code was adopted, only four zoos on the HSUS list–the San Francisco Zoo, Busch Gardens, the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, and the Seneca Park Zoo in Rochester, New York–are alleged to have sold animals who may have gone to canned hunts. Of these, all but Busch Gardens sold the animals to the Catskill Game Farm.
“Catskill assured me none of our animals were sold to canned hunts,” said Seneca Park Zoo director Dan Michalowski, who quit dealing with Catskill anyway and said legal action could follow if the animals had gone to hunting ranches, inasmuch as Catskill had signed an agreement that neither the animals in question nor their offspring would ever be hunted. New York state Department of Environmental Conservation records show that of the three Seneca Park Zoo animals sold to Catskill since 1992, a 13-year-old lion was euthanized due to injuries received in a fight with another lion, a male ringtailed lemur drowned, and a female ringtailed lemur remains at Catskill.

Catskill co-owner Kathie Schulz, whose father founded the facility in 1933, said she was unaware of having sold any animals to canned hunts, despite repeated allegations of having done so, and added that HSUS will hear from her lawyer. But she later admitted that a related firm run by her husband Jurgen Schulz sells animals “to whatever the needs are of the public.”

The San Francisco Zoo also sold two nyalas to Buddy Jordan.By far the most serious HSUS allegations–other than the well-known situation involving the San Antonio Zoo–pertained to Busch Gardens, which sold animals to both Buddy Jordan and Earl Tatum, nearly four years after the latter lost his AZA accreditation. Jordan apparently bought 87 animals from Busch between 1990 and 1992. Tatum may have acquired hundreds of Busch animals over the past two decades. Both Jordan and Tatum signed the AZA’s standard agreement that animals obtained from Busch would not
be sold at auctions or be hunted, but Arkansas state veterinary records indicate that Tatum did in fact sell at least one kudu bought from Busch in 1992 to Texas hunting ranch owner Jack Moore.

As many as 4,000 hunting ranches operate in the U.S., of which about three-fourths specialize in captive bird-shooting. Of the rest, most either breed the animals killed on their premises themselves or buy animals through an extensive and fast-growing network of private breeders and exotic wildlife auctions. The foundation stock for this network did mostly come from zoos, but mostly prior to the formation of the AZA, which from its inception has worked to halt the release of animals from accredited zoos to unaccredited facilities and to promote longterm coordinated breeding strategies to reduce the numbers of surplus animals.

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