Single Vision in Melrose, Florida, has again been cited by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for a number of violations including allowing the public to interact with dangerous animals with no barriers in place to assure the safety of the animals and the public.
Single Vision is a 10-acre roadside zoo owned by Carl Bovard who makes his money by charging visitors for exclusive access to play with exotic animals, swim with them and take selfies.
YouTube videos show the animals at Single Vision are kept in small enclosures where they pace while waiting for their chance to be given access to a slightly larger central enclosure. The animals appear to be allowed access to the central enclosure on a rotational basis.
The most recent USDA inspection report from March 8, 2022, outlines the following violations:
During the inspection, Bovard lied to officials about the veterinary care he was providing to his animals and provided fraudulent documentation of the program of veterinary care.
The USDA identified a Geoffroy’s cat with hair loss on the left side of its body, a squinting right eye and a scabbed wound over its right eye. Bovard told inspectors that he had taken the cat in to be examined by his veterinarian who determined the cat was experiencing behavioral issues due to losing its mate. Bovard's veterinarian contradicted his claims and told USDA officials that she had never been contacted regarding the cat and she had never examined the animal.
Bovard told officials that the veterinarian regularly conducted site visits at his Florida roadside zoo. Bovard’s veterinarian denied to USDA officials that she ever conducted annual site visits and she said that she’s only ever called occasionally to address animal wounds or abnormalities.
Bovard told officials that his veterinarian had inspected an obese male jaguar several times and suggested that the solution to the obesity was to cut back on the jaguar’s diet. The veterinarian told officials that she had never examined the male jaguar and the only contact she had regarding the jaguar was when Bovard mentioned that it was overweight in passing while she was at the facility attending to an injured lion.
The veterinarian told officials that she had not been given a program of veterinary care for the animals at Single Vision in over two years. The inspector noted in his report that the veterinarian’s statement indicated that the records provided during previous inspections for a variety of species that Bovard had recently acquired were fraudulent.
“Knowingly providing false information and fraudulent programs of veterinary care impedes USDA Officials ability to accurately assess animal welfare as well as the facility’s ability to provide adequate veterinary care to the animals in its possession,” the USDA inspector wrote.
The veterinarian told officials that she felt that Single Vision was not an appropriate facility for performing proper physical examinations of animals because there are no squeeze shoots or lockouts where the animals can be safely evaluated and Bovard is unable to transport the larger and more dangerous animals to the veterinary clinic for care.
The USDA cited Single Vision for more than 44 occasions when the public was photographed directly interacting with juvenile and adult jaguars, lions, cougars and bears.
The USDA prohibits public contact with big cats over 12 weeks of age because they become too big, too fast and too strong to be safely handled. When Bovard was confronted with the photos showing the improper interactions, he indicated that some of the photos were of a volunteer who is a veterinary student. The USDA contacted the local college of veterinary medicine and found the student was an undergraduate pre-veterinary student with no formal veterinary training.
10 enclosures were found to have issues ranging from exposed metal sub-floors to dangerous screws sticking out. One enclosure housing two bears, a tiger and a lion had a loose door hinge and the enclosure door was being held shut with two metal chairs. A black leopard’s den box had caved in and the animal no longer had adequate shelter. The USDA found an adolescent spotted hyena that was living in Bovard’s house and did not have its own enclosure. Two otters were living in feces mixed with mud and leftover food.
Single Vision was cited with two non-critical violations, two critical violations, and one direct violation for the infractions.
Download the full USDA inspection report: