An accused child rapist who owns a pet store and has started a roadside zoo in Rhea County, TN, has been cited by the U.S. Department of Agriculture 17 times in 7 months.
David Manser, 53, owns the pet store Ponds and Plants and he’s started a roadside zoo at the facility with various species of animals including marmosets, porcupines, prairie dogs, birds and reptiles. Manser also designs outdoor zoo exhibits for other facilities including Zoo Knoxville, a facility accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.
Manser is in hot water with the USDA and the agency has cited his pet store and roadside zoo 17 times in seven months including nine violations at a July 27 inspection.
At that inspection, Manser was cited with a repeat violation for failing to maintain records for numerous animals that he had acquired and disposed of since his last USDA inspection.
Several rabbits, guinea pigs and marmosets were housed outdoors at Ponds and Plants with no climate control in temperatures that reached 93 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the USDA inspection report.
The inspector said the walls of the marmoset enclosure were constructed of a material that resembles tree bark which also made the enclosure walls “very difficult if not impossible” to keep clean. The filthy conditions were causing pest control issues and the inspector found a roach and multiple flies in the marmoset enclosure. One of the marmosets began scratching when flies got close to it, according to the report.
The inspector said the refrigerated food for the marmosets was not being stored in a manner that prevents contamination and the shelves and walls of the refrigerators were dirty and coated with brown grime.
The inspector said the porcupine enclosure needed to be cleaned. It was filled with old corn cobs, food waste and enrichment wastes and the inspector said an odor was present.
The concrete pond which also acts as a water source for the pigs was a bright green color due to contamination by algae, dirt and mud. The inspector noted that “some types of algae may be toxic to animals.”
The facility was also cited for their perimeter fence for the prairie dogs and African crested porcupine which was only two feet high and does not protect the animals by restricting unwanted animals and unauthorized persons from having contact with the animals at the facility, documents say.
Ponds and Plants was ordered to correct the most serious violations immediately and was given until September 27 to correct the less serious violations.
Manser is currently awaiting trial in the Circuit Court of Rhea County on three counts of child rape and incest charges for allegedly sexually assaulting a child under the age of 13 from 2007-2009.
Rhea County District Attorney General Mike Taylor said Manser’s case was set for trial last month but was continued due to jurors having COVID exposure. The trial is now set for May 17, 2022.
If convicted, Manser is facing 25-60 years in prison and fines up to $50,000.
Ponds and Plants July 2021 USDA Inspection Report: