JAMESTOWN – Pymatuning Deer Park will remove endangered species and a bear that has been a longtime attraction to settle a lawsuit brought by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF).
Animal rights agencies had claimed that animals protected under the Endangered Species Act had suffered abuse in the park.
PETA said the park was ordered to remove the birds, lemurs and three big cats, as well as Bosco, a bear that has been kept at the zoo for several years.
Animals will be transferred to the care of The Wild Animal Sanctuary, a wildlife sanctuary accredited by the World Federation of Animal Sanctuaries.
Bosco will be moved to one of the facility’s now vacant big cat enclosures. A tiger, two lions, two ring-tailed lemurs, a military macaw and a blue-and-gold macaw that bonded, and a mikado pheasant will also be moved to other facilities.
“At the Wild Animal Sanctuary, these rescued animals will be able to stretch their wings and legs, experience natural habitats, and finally enjoy their lives,” said Brittany Peet, assistant general counsel for the PETA Foundation for Animal Enforcement Law. captive animals. “PETA is celebrating this move and will not give up until all the animals in this roadside zoo have been moved to a home that is suitable for their needs.”
The lawsuit, filed in April in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania in Pittsburgh, alleges that Pymatuning Deer Park, 804 E. Jamestown Road, abused more than 200 animals.
Rachelle Sankey, owner of the park and named in the lawsuit, denied the charges.
“We don’t comment on pending litigation,” said Sankey’s attorney, Jonathan Steele, of the Steele Schneider law firm in Pittsburgh.
The complaint alleges that the US Department of Agriculture cited the park multiple times.
In the lawsuit, PETA and ALDF accuse the deer park of failing to provide proper veterinary care to a tiger that was shot and died without being examined.
The lawsuit also says an injured lion was trapped in a substandard holding area during the shooting incident and for about two months after being attacked by another lion. The lion was attacked several times and was permanently injured.
Shortly after PETA and ALDF notified the deer park of their plans to sue in December, a bear and a lemur named Lola were killed in a fire caused by an electric heater, Peet said.
Pymatuning Deer Park, however, are focused on having a great opening for the 2022 season and appreciate the supportive ratings they have received from their loyal visitors, Steele said.
“As always, the park is constantly striving to improve the visitor experience and care for the animals,” Steele said. “They look forward to welcoming visitors this spring.”