For years a tigress named Lila wasted away, pacing in a tiny cage at the Waccatee Zoo in Myrtle Beach, SC. Her fur started falling out in patches and her muscles began to atrophy, likely from being confined to such a small space. Graphic photos of Lila, with nearly all of her hair gone, were shared widely online.
Many people tried to help Lila. We sent complaint after complaint to the United States Department of Agriculture, begging for someone to step in and get her veterinary care. In 2020, PETA named Waccatee Zoo the worst roadside zoo in America for their treatment of Lila, placing a billboard urging people not to visit. Lila’s story received media coverage nationwide.
Despite the eyes of the world on Waccatee Zoo, no one helped Lila. She stared out of the bars of her barren cage, her feet sore from years of walking on concrete, watching the freedom outside of her enclosure. She could see the rabbits and the birds and the humans that were free, but she would never get to experience that freedom.
Waccatee Zoo had made their money off of Lila. Couldn’t she be retired to a sanctuary where she could feel grass under her feet for the first time in her life? A place where she could run and stretch her legs without hitting the bars of her cage? A sanctuary where she could receive the veterinary care she desperately needed?
But Lila’s captors refused to free her and help never came for Lila. Help didn’t come from her captors, help didn’t come from the government agencies tasked with protecting her, and help didn’t come from the activists begging for her freedom. And when help didn’t come, Lila gave up. She died, alone, nearly bald, in the concrete prison cell where she had spent her entire life.
Lila deserved so much better and we can not let her death be in vain. Say her name. Share her story. Tell people the truth about what animals experience at roadside zoos. Support legislation that ends the captive cruelty and exploitation of exotic animals.
In Lila’s memory, write a letter to the Waccatee Zoo and ask them to rehome their animals to accredited sanctuaries where they can receive the care they need and deserve.
Attn: Owner Waccatee Zoological Farm 8500 Enterprise Rd. Myrtle Beach, SC 29588
Dear Lila, we are sorry we couldn’t save you. We promise to use your story to help save the animals still suffering at roadside zoos. Rest easy, lovely Lila; you are finally free.