World Wildlife Kingdom under investigation

World Wildlife Kingdom under investigation

By Shelie Berg

By Shellie Berg

Staff Reporter

World Wildlife Kingdom, Inc. faces an investigation by the USDA following the deaths of a fox, a cougar and a sheep last year. Moreover, a recent report indicates further citations.

“There is currently an open investigation,” Jim Rogers, spokesman for USDA in Maryland, confirmed. “The investigation opened recently for possible violations of the Animal Welfare Act.”

He wouldn’t mention the allegations and couldn’t provide a particular timeline for the investigation. However, Rogers said he’s seen investigations last two months to two years, and he noted they entail a particular process. “Our investigation generally focuses on something specific,” he said. “We will do various interviews.”

Last week, organization president and founder Ryan Cole said he wasn’t aware of the investigation. But he said the USDA generally conducts an investigation if animals die. Cole said the cougar died on Dec. 17 of liver disease. The fox, which was bitten by another fox, died on Nov. 20. The sheep died of natural causes on Dec. 21, according to Cole.

“There were pretty common causes for all of them,” Cole said. “Animals, unfortunately, do die.”

Also, a USDA report, dated Jan. 31, cites many requirements that the facility must comply with by Feb. 2. Since that time, the USDA inspector for World Wildlife, Megan Adams, hasn’t inspected the facility. Rogers said that even though a date was set for compliance time, an inspector can make a surprise visit.

Cole said he complied with all items within three days. On the USDA report, Adams cited the following items that needed attention:

l Dr. Cary Thompson of Animal Medical Clinic, the new veterinarian, must complete the program of veterinary care and conduct a site visit. Cole said that he visited the facility since the report was written.

l The new Capuchin (a monkey), which the center obtained in September, has hair loss on its back and sides. A veterinarian hadn’t examined the animal. “When received, that monkey—it had extreme hair loss,” Cole commented, adding that a veterinarian has documented that it continues to grow more hair.

l The report also indicates problems with a coatimundi, an animal from tropical America that is similar to a raccoon. “One of the coatimundis has suffered damage to its tail due to exposure to the harsh elements,” according to the report.

“There’s nothing that can be done medically,” Cole said. He said the animal, even though it has heated shelter, sometimes is allowed to venture outside the shelter. He said he isn’t certain how the tail was injured, but it could have been damaged because of the weather.

l A cougar was limping and behaving “in a different manner” Oct. 10. “She was noted several times until she was X-rayed by the veterinarian on Nov. 3. She was operated on for a broken leg on Nov. 6.

“Direct and frequent communication is required so that timely and accurate information on problems of animal health, behavior and well-being is conveyed to the attending veterinarian,” the report indicates.

Cole said the reason for the limp is a result of surgery the cougar had after she broke her leg in her cage.

In addition, the organization lacked reports of veterinary care for the cougar or sheep that died.

l The report also details housing. “The surfaces of housing facilities including perches, shelves, boxes, houses, dens and other furniture-type fixtures must be made of materials that allow them to be readily cleaned and sanitized.”

The wood used for perches and support in the primates’ enclosures was raw and unable to be cleaned and sanitized properly.

The report states that Styrofoam sheets are on the rafters for primates, but the material isn’t structurally sound and won’t hold the primates securely.

“The ceiling is actually structurally sound in the building,” Cole asserted. He said the inspector believed the Styrofoam was used as a rafter, but it really was for insulation.

l A loose screw is located on the branch a Capuchin monkey sits on and could cause it injury. Two pieces of wiring hold the branch in place on the enclosure for the monkey,, Abu. However, they contain two sharp pieces that must be removed.

Cole noted the monkey played with the screws, but employees screwed them back in after the inspection.

l “The cover for the electric box was sitting on the floor. All the wires were exposed. This needs to be addressed to protect the animals from injury,” the report documents.

“We’re adding new wiring in there,” Cole said.

The halogen light in the entrance to the primate area doesn’t work. “Lighting must be uniformly diffused throughout the animal facility to aid in housekeeping, cleaning and adequate inspection of the animals.” Cole said that a light had just burnt out, but it was replaced.

Primates must live in shelter that adequately protects them from sun, rain, snow, wind and cold. The facility’s vervet lacks outside shelter. Cole said there are outside facilities for the animals, but the vervet lacked its own shelter.

l Also, employees must clean and sanitize water receptacles. Abu’s bucket was beneath his branch. “The animal was seen defecating into the receptacle. This needs to be moved to keep the water fresh and the receptacle clean.”

Cole said buckets are cleaned daily. “The monkey must have defecated in one of those buckets,” he said. “Many animals will defecate in their water.”

l Also, waste disposal must occur to decrease the possibility of vermin infestation and disease. Trash bags overfilled the dumpster, and more trash bags sat next to it.

Cole stated the accountant failed to pay the payment for garbage collection for the previous month because she had an illness in her family. After the inspection, Cole said the garbage collector was called and picked up the trash.

l Items in an animal shelter must protect the animals from injury. Six prairie dogs, three potbelly pigs, three goats and three coatimundis lacked heat lamps with protective covers.

“The animals were not able to reach the heat lights,” Cole asserted.

All animals kept outside must have shelter from inclement weather. But the two foxes the facility obtained recently were displaced from indoor to outdoor housing during the winter and were not acclimated properly. Cole said Adams didn’t realize that the foxes came from outside, and therefore, were acclimated.

The two bobcats are housed in plastic pet carriers with clean and dry bedding. “The bedding has not been changed since the weekend, and bedding is wet from rain, sleet and snow over the past three days,” the USDA report says.

Cole said there had been constant rain, and the bedding just hadn’t been changed. He said it was changed that day.

l For storage, the refrigerator produced a “rancid odor” and must be cleaned and sanitized. None of the three primates has received TB tests, which were overdue for the original two animals in the May 25 inspection, according to the USDA report.

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