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 impli-
cated 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
nvestigator 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 impli-
cated 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 ampli-
fied by an August 19 U.S. Newswire state-
ment, timed to boost the August 20 introduc-
tion of H.R. 4497, the “Captive Exotic
Animal Protection Act of 1994,” by Rep.
George Brown (D-California) and 15 co-spon-
sors. 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 virtu-
ally no chance of passage this late in the cur-
rent 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 viola-
tion, which can result in the loss of accreditation and mem-
bership.” Butler said AZA would study H.R. 4497 before
ssuing 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 alle-
gations. 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––espe-
cially 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 nei-
ther 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 fre-
quent exposes of the traffic in both U.S. and Canadian media
between 1981 and 1991. AAZPA responded with increasing-
ly strict guidelines discouraging such transactions, and in
1990 backed words with deeds by stripping Arkansas wildlife
broker Earl Tatum of his accreditation, for officially undis-
closed 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 the60 Minutessegment aired.
Already embarrassed, the San Diego Zoo was hit
again on the eve of the September 1991 AAZPA annual meet-
ing––held in San Diego––when former San Diego Zoo ele-
phant 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 trans-
actions 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 E x o t i c
Animal News, a periodical advertising the availability of ani-
mals 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 immedi-
ately 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 connec-
tion, 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 indi-
viduals solely for the purpose of shooting,” the group
resolved. “Specimens should not be sold, traded, or other-
wise transferred to any organization or individual for the pur-
pose 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 sev-
ered 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 inves-
tigation, 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 dis-
covered 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 inter-
nal discussion paper summarizing the debate that ensued
throughout the next year, “The word s o l e l y” 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 ani-
mals 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 suf-
fer 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 sur-
plus to make money. Usually unexpressed, but perhaps most
important,” the paper added, “it is both difficult and dis-
heartening 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 alterna-
tive 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 ranch-
es 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 hunt-
ing 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 estab-
lished 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 hunt-
ing 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 allega-
tions 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 exten-
sive 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 facili-
ties and to promote longterm coordinated breeding strategies
to reduce the numbers of surplus animals.
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