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Maggot-infested corpse prompts Animal Haven Zoo violation

Decaying corpses are shown in an enclosure at Animal Haven Zoo in 2019.

A decaying maggot-covered lamb carcass, a peacock with an untreated injury and numerous safety hazards were identified at Animal Haven Zoo during a recent federal inspection.

The roadside zoo in Weyauwega, Wisconsin, has repeatedly been cited by federal inspectors for neglect and safety issues. Click here to read more about the past issues at Animal Haven Zoo.

An inspection conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) in April highlighted instances where injured animals were left untreated and facilities were in disrepair.

One distressing discovery involved a lamb carcass in an advanced state of decomposition in a Dall sheep barn.  Inspectors noted the presence of maggots under the carcass, indicating that it had been left unattended for an extended period. The lack of regular checks on the barn raises concerns about the zoo's ability to promptly address animal welfare issues.

Inspectors discovered a peacock with a visibly injured leg that was limping, had a deformed foot with a toe sharply deviated to the side and was reluctant to walk. Despite being in apparent discomfort, the peacock had not received evaluation or treatment from a veterinarian. This negligence in reporting health issues to the veterinarian could lead to worsened conditions and unnecessary suffering for the animals.

Safety hazards were also identified, including gaps in public barriers, particularly around the wolf enclosure and kangaroo pen, posing the risk of visitors coming into direct contact with the animals.

Structural deficiencies such as rusted panels and exposed sharp edges were observed in various animal enclosures housing a tiger, lion, black bears and cougar, potentially endangering both the animals and zoo staff.

Animal enclosures, crucial for the well-being and safety of the inhabitants, were found to be lacking in cleanliness and maintenance. The perch inside the shelter for two macaques had accumulated animal waste, which can lead to illness and discomfort for the animals.

In January, an inspection revealed that the shelters for both the lion and the liger (lion tiger cross) lacked sufficient bedding to protect them from the harsh winter conditions. Upon arrival, inspectors found the lion hunched up inside the shelter, occasionally lifting his paws off the floor and emitting audible groans. 

The floor of the shelter was covered in a thin layer of frozen wet straw, with some picked-clean bones scattered about. With the freezing temperatures outside and approximately 12 inches of snow accumulating inside the enclosure, the shelter offered little protection.

According to guidelines, when climatic conditions pose a threat to an animal's health, appropriate measures must be taken to mitigate the impact. This includes providing deep, dry bedding or insulating material to keep the animals warm during severe cold or blizzard conditions. However, the lack of adequate bedding in the shelters put the lion and liger at risk of discomfort and potentially serious health issues.

In addition to the bedding concerns, the male lion had no fresh drinking water as it was frozen. The facility representative admitted that the lion had not been provided with fresh water for two days due to his reluctance to venture into the snow. 

The USDA reports detailing seven violations in the first four months of 2024 follows an alarming trend at Animal Haven Zoo. Since Roadside Zoo News began reporting on the neglectful conditions in 2020, the facility has been cited with 47 violations of the Animal Welfare Act and fined $6,450.

Twenty-four of the violations, amounting to more than half of the roadside zoo's five-year total, were issued since January 2023. Yet USDA APHIS, the federal agency tasked with ensuring adequate care of animals at roadside zoos, refuses to take serious action to ensure humane animal welfare at Animal Haven Zoo.

The zoo recently reopened to the public for the season and already Google reviews outlining neglectful conditions are pouring in.

“I have to say, this is by far the worst zoo I have ever seen,” one recent visitor wrote. “The lion and tiger enclosures consisted of a small wooden platform, surrounded by nothing but gravel and only enough room to turn around, no toys, no grass and no space to roam. It was absolutely gut wrenching to see. Most of the animal enclosures were extremely unkempt and some of them (were) damaged.”

“I went thinking this was going to be a small farm with farm animals, not exotic animals crammed into little cages,” another reviewer wrote. “Makes me sick to think about.”

Roadside Zoo News is one of several animal welfare organizations calling for increased oversight and accountability to ensure that Animal Haven Zoo provides appropriate standards of care for its animal residents.

To report animal neglect at Animal Haven Zoo, email and include USDA license number 35-B-0214 along with your tip.

You can also leave a Google review for Animal Haven Zoo here:

Download Animal Haven Zoo's April 2024 USDA report:

PST_Inspection_Report_Dawn_Hofferber (2)
Download PDF • 365KB

Download Animal Haven Zoo's January 2024 USDA report:

PST_Inspection_Report_Dawn_Hofferber (3)
Download PDF • 367KB


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