The U.S. Department of Agriculture has permanently revoked the Animal Welfare Act license of Cicchelli Second Chance Rescue and Exotics, effectively shutting down the Lake City, Michigan roadside zoo owned by April and Ryan Cicchelli.
The violations outlined in the complaint include:
Providing false information to inspectors in January 2022 concerning a young mountain lion that they weren’t federally licensed to own.
Providing false information to inspectors concerning a North American River otter during a relicensing inspection in January 2022.
Failing to provide adequate veterinary care to animals in January 2022 as follows:
-One male olive baboon had growths on its head.
-The inside shelter housing the baboon had an inadequate temperature reading of 31.6 degrees Fahrenheit.
-The inside shelter housing the rhesus macaques had an inadequate temperature reading of 37.4 degrees Fahrenheit.
-The primates were locked outside and exposed to cold weather and temperature extremes while their indoor housing facility is cleaned and sanitized.
-The inside shelter housing the baboon was insufficient as the shelter could not be cleaned without causing the animals harm in cold weather.
-The inside shelter housing the kinkajous had an inadequate temperature reading of 45.0 degrees Fahrenheit.
-The zebra enclosure lacked accessible water.
On February 3, 2022, the Cicchellis failed to provide inspectors access to complete an inspection or have a responsible adult available to accompany officials during the inspection.
On February 10, 2022, inspectors found the Cicchellis were again locking a primate outside and exposed to cold weather and temperature extremes while his indoor housing facility is cleaned and sanitized.
On April 4, 2022, inspectors found:
-The Cicchellis failed to provide adequate veterinary care to a goat that was lame on the right front leg.
-The lemur enclosure was insufficient as it was covered with streaks of brown organic material.
-The Cicchellis failed to keep clean and in good repair the premises housing the African crested porcupine.
On July 14, 2022, the Cicchellis failed to provide adequate veterinary care to a goat that had a 2-inch lump on its side.
On September 13, 2022, the Cicchellis failed to provide inspectors access to complete an inspection or have a responsible adult available to accompany officials during the inspection.
On September 19, 2022, inspectors found:
-The Cicchellis failed to provide veterinary care to a buffalo with overgrown hooves on both front feet and one hind foot.
-The Cicchellis failed to maintain sufficient distance and barriers between a pig and the public during the time that the public was allowed to view the pig, which resulted in a pig biting a child.
-The wolf enclosure was designed and constructed insufficiently as the fencing allowed the wolf pup to stick its head through.
On November 29, 2022, inspectors found:
-The lemur enclosure was designed and constructed insufficiently as it could not contain the baby lemurs.
-The coyote enclosure had sharp points on the metal flashing below the roof shingles.
-The Asiatic water buffalo and Highlander cow had excessive mud.
Ryan and April Cicchelli were ordered to permanently cease any activity regulated under the Animal Welfare Act. Read the full order here.
In a video posted on their Facebook page, the Cicchellis claim they’re not closing but admitted the public can no longer visit the roadside zoo.
Ryan said he and April plan on obtaining big cats and opening in the “next couple years” with their daughter as the owner. The Cicchelli’s daughter appears to be about five years old.
April said they’re “giving up” their license, but that they will continue providing the same level of care to the animals; a level of care that resulted in 53 violations of the Animal Welfare Act in a two-year period.
The USDA has determined that the animal welfare violations at Cicchelli Second Chance Rescue are egregious enough to revoke the roadside zoo’s license to operate, but April and Ryan Cicchelli were allowed to keep the animals, which will no longer be subject to federal oversight in regards to their care and treatment.
The USDA’s policy is referred to as “revoke and run.” The agency is currently being sued by Animal Legal Defense Fund for the policy, with the nonprofit organization demanding the USDA recognize its authority to remove and relocate animals from facilities whose license has been revoked for violating the Animal Welfare Act.