Lawsuit Against Unaccredited Zoo

A small zoo in Maryland is once again facing violations of the federal animal-protection laws by mistreating lemurs, tigers, and lion.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), recently filed a lawsuit against a zoo owner claiming that he violated the Endangered Species Act because he had unsuitable enclosures without providing the right amount of companionship, enrichment, food, water and shelter for the animals. This impedes the animals' ability to carry out their natural behaviors, which puts their physical and psychological well-being at risk.

In the past, owner Robert Candy has had claims against him for not properly caring for the animals in the zoo. In 2012, a judge suspended the zoo's license for 45 days for violating regulations of the Animal Welfare Act.

PETA wants the lemurs and big cats to be relocated from the zoo, since Candy hasn't demonstrated that he can adequately provide for the animals. PETA also claims that Candy allows inexperienced volunteers to care for the animals instead of trained employees, and that these volunteers are provided with shelter on the zoo grounds in exchange for their volunteer work. PETA is seeking a court order to terminate the zoo's ownership of the lemurs, tigers, and lion and to find wildlife sanctuaries or appropriate placement for the animals.

Comments from Allen
When I first saw this news article, I thought it might be a case of PETA inserting itself needlessly into some animal-owner's life.  However, I think PETA has done a public service in this case.

Wild animals require specialized training, and no one should keep big cats without providing an appropriate environment for them.  It sounds very much like Mr. Candy is just a guy who had the financial means to acquire these animals, and the financial means to build what looks like a combination of animal enclosures and a number of cages.

It was his dream to someday create his own zoo, and he has done that.  However good his intentions might be, and it appears this man loves his animals, wild animal care is a science. It does not appear he has the professional assistance necessary to properly care for all of his animals.

These small roadside zoos are becoming a problem due to the lack of oversight and enforcement. Someone who wants to open a small zoo only needs to fill out a short application with the USDA to demonstrate knowledge and undergo an inspection, but there is no formal training required. States may pass laws for higher zoo standards, but most regulation has fallen on the federal government. Under federal law, inspectors check all facilities that display animals to the public including zoos, circuses, and animal sanctuaries. There are 97 inspectors for 7,500 facilities in the United States. They decided whether these facilities are complying with the Animal Welfare Act and are providing the minimal care standards for animals. If there is a violation, the owner is given a warning and a time limit to bring their facility up to code. Then if the problem persists, there can be an investigation and a possibility of a law proceeding where a judge can impose fines and license suspensions.

Personally, I hope Mr. Candy is able to do what is necessary to keep his animals.


Allen Browning is an attorney in Idaho Falls, Idaho who handles personal injury and criminal defense. He has over 30 years of experience and handled thousands of cases. Allen handles cases from all over Idaho. Call (208) 542-2700 to set up a free consultation if you are facing legal trouble or you have been involved in an accident.

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