A liger went without water for 20 hours at Animal Haven Zoo. Here’s what else the feds found


Two tigers lie on the floor of an enclosure at Animal Haven Zoo in Weyauwega, Wisconsin.

Animal Haven Zoo has been cited with seven violations of the Animal Welfare Act after an August USDA inspection that revealed animals with untreated medical conditions, filthy cages, enclosures in need of repair and a liger that went without water for 20 hours.


On Aug. 26 the USDA completed an inspection at the Weyauwega, WI, roadside zoo and found several sick and injured animals in need of medical care.


Inspector Jessica Rivera observed a young rabbit in poor condition with discharge coming from its ear and eyes and hair loss on its foot. She found a potbellied pig whose tusk had grown back and into its cheek. An African crested porcupine had pale colored eyeballs and discharge in the corners of its eyes. Rivera found a sheep with an abnormally grown hoof and an alpaca with overgrown hooves.


A rabbit had an untreated scab on its nose and documents indicate that when the inspector pointed it out, Animal Haven Zoo owner Jim Hofferber told the inspector the rabbit’s wound wouldn’t be worth treating.


“We explained that as an exhibit animal it must be treated per the attending veterinarian’s instructions,” Rivera noted.


An enclosure with nine rabbits and another enclosure with seven rabbits had an excessive accumulation of “rotten food and solid waste that was covered in flies,” according to the report, and one enclosure lacked “adequate shelter for the nine rabbits in it.”



The inspector also documented numerous enclosures in need of repair including two rabbit enclosures, a muntjac enclosure, a sika deer enclosure, a barbary sheep enclosure, a fallow deer enclosure and a camel enclosure. A fence between the wolves and bison had a post that was leaning.


“Enclosures that are not properly maintained could cause injury or death to the animals or allow animals to escape,” Rivera said.


Inspectors found a liger that had an empty water dish in its enclosure and they learned the liger had been without water for 20 hours. Jim said he knew the water dish had a hole in it but he had not yet replaced it.


“The licensee filled the water receptacle and the liger immediately began to drink water and continued to drink for over four minutes,” Rivera noted in the inspection report.


The zoo was cited with four non-critical violations and three direct violations for the infractions.


The last complete USDA inspection at Animal Haven Zoo was in April. A comparison of the facility’s April animal inventory and their August animal inventory reveals several animals have disappeared. The animals missing include two black bears, one bobcat, one African crested porcupine, one barbary sheep, two Dall sheep and two domestic sheep.


Animal Haven Zoo has been under scrutiny the past year over the care and treatment of their animals. Testimony in the trial of Joe Exotic (Joseph Maldonado Passage), made famous in the 2020 Netflix series Tiger King, indicates Animal Haven Zoo owners Jim and Dawn Hofferber purchased two lions from the Wynnewood, OK, zoo. The sale of endangered species across state lines is a federal violation.


Earlier this year the facility let a high school student take a three-week-old tiger cub to an elementary school and a high school to let the students interact with the cub. The USDA cited Animal Haven Zoo with a critical violation for the incident.


Animal Haven Zoo also sent two tiger cubs to Shalom Wildlife Sanctuary, West Bend, WI, in May 2021, when the cubs were only fourteen days old. Transporting a cub under 28 days old is a federal violation because they do not have a developed immune system which makes them susceptible to a wide variety of diseases, USDA documents indicate.


Animal Haven Zoo was ordered to correct their USDA violations by Sept. 1.

August 2021 USDA Inspection Report:

PST_Inspection_Report_DAWN HOFFERBER (1) (1)
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