During a recent visit to Franklin Drive Thru Safari, Franklin, TX, a Roadside Zoo News representative noticed several animal care issues that are a cause for concern.
The representative witnessed a coatimundi holding its back leg up and pacing.
Repetitive and unnatural behaviors are a sign of zoochosis; a mental disorder caused by the stress of captivity.
Franklin Drive Thru Safari's gibbon was housed alone and cried while reaching his arm out of his enclosure towards visitors.
"It really was heartbreaking to hear him talk," the representative said. "You could tell he was lonely."
One of the deer at the facility appeared to be very skinny compared to the others.
Some of the enclosures for the animals were woefully inadequate. The lemur enclosure was not an enclosure at all and consisted of only a small rickety wooden structure with no toys, completely surrounded by water.
Several recent visitors also complained about the disturbing reptile care.
“We visited today and were literally appalled at the tank in the shop that held the bearded dragons,” a visitor said. “One [of the bearded dragons] was so thin and its fat pads on its head were so shrunken and it was apparent it had been starved for a very very long time.”
The U.S. Department of Agriculture is in charge of ensuring the animals at Franklin Drive Thru Safari are being adequately cared for. However, there are no federal regulations or requirements for the care and treatment of reptiles, amphibians, birds or invertebrates at roadside zoos.
State and local law only requires that the animals are provided with food, water and shelter.
The roadside zoo is owned by animal dealer Jason Clay, who also owns East Texas Zoo and Gator Park.
“This is animal cruelty and we will be taking the matter further,” the Franklin Drive Thru Safari visitor said. “There is zero excuse for this treatment of a beautiful animal.”