If you go to the webpage for the Austin Zoo, you’ll see pictures of bear cubs playing, a tiger playing with a ball in the water and an emu seemingly smiling into the camera. Anyone not in the know might think that the zoo — which has been “helping animals” since 1990 — is a great place for animals to call home. But a recent article about the facility has shone a new light on what goes on behind the bars and enclosures and the suffering their “beloved” animals endure when no one’s looking.
Tales of unethical treatment have long been whispered by zoo employees but it wasn’t until a few animal deaths that workers there finally said they had enough. In an article in the Austin American-Statesman, nearly 24 current and former staff members told reporters that the zoo had, on several occasions, opted to let sick and dying animals suffer.
In one such case, Babs — the zoo’s 33-year-old black bear suddenly fell so ill that she was unable to move. When vets were unable to assist her, zoo officials hid her inside a tarp-lined kennel. Employees tell of having to give her water with a hose and dangling hot dogs from a string to encourage her to eat — she wouldn’t.
Over a six-week period, Babs was allowed to lie in her own waste, often used as a feeding ground for rats that would crawl on her to fight for the scraps in her enclosure.
In another case, in 2010, when Annie, one of the zoo’s patas monkeys, went blind, they decided to separate her for her own good. Alone, she languished for nearly 10 years, suffering a rattlesnake bite and several strokes that progressively rendered her paralyzed. Zoo officials then let her wither away for a decade until she finally died in her caretaker’s arms.
This is not normal procedure and it shows why this zoo is not accredited and their mission of “helping animals” is suspect.
While keeping animals in captivity is already a form of suffering, allowing them to literally suffer goes beyond anything acceptable in animal care.
On its webpage, the Austin Zoo boasts that they have several high profile supporters including multibillion-dollar companies like Marriott, Lowe’s and Whole Foods. One can only imagine that these companies support the zoo because they take them at their word, that they are “helping animals.” But now that these allegations of serious animal abuse and neglect have come to light, Care2 is asking if they really want to continue to give their money to an organization that is not on the up and up.
That’s why we are asking for Marriott, Lowe’s and Whole Foods to cut ties immediately with the Austin Zoo to send a message that this type of treatment towards animals is not OK.
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