One of the nation’s most prolific breeders of wildcats that are stolen from their mother, human imprinted on and exploited as “ambassador animals,” has been cited with a critical violation of the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA) for transporting Eurasian lynx kittens under 28 days old to another roadside zoo.
Tanganyika Wildlife Park, Goddard, KS, is a for profit facility connected to the nonprofit Tanganyika Wildlife Foundation, according to Kansas business records.
The nonprofit was previously called Wildlife Conservation & Rehabilitation Center and Species Survival Fund.
The for-profit business buys, sells, breeds, trades and loans exotic animals to the nonprofit.
Tanganyika Wildlife Park advertises on Facebook that they’re a nonprofit without disclosing their for profit business ties. This helps them solicit donations and dupe the public into believing their massive breeding and pay-to-play schemes are conservation rather than exploitation.
In early May, Tanganyika Wildlife Park sent three Eurasian lynx kittens to another facility licensed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The kittens were only 20 days old at the time of transport, according to the USDA report.
It is a federal violation to transport nondomestic kittens under 28 days old because of the health and safety risks for the animals.
“Neonatal nondomestic cats have special handling and husbandry needs and are placed in danger when they are exposed to members of the public and/or stressful conditions, including transportation,” the USDA report said.
Tanganyika Wildlife Park was ordered to handle their animals “as expeditiously and carefully as possible in a manner that does not cause trauma, overheating, excessive cooling, behavioral stress, physical harm, or unnecessary discomfort.”
Behavioral stress, physical harm and unnecessary discomfort are likely regular occurrences for the animals at Tanganyika, as the facility advertises themselves as the most interactive wildlife park in the Midwest.
For an added cost of $37-$200, guests can have hands-on interactions with a variety of exotic animals including penguins, lemurs, sloths, bat eared foxes, otters, Eurasian lynx, servals, porcupines, giraffes and an owl monkey.
The facility also opened up a 5,000 square foot splash park inside their roadside zoo to draw in additional revenue. The splash park reopened for the 2021 season on May 31 but was shut down by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) in June after dozens of people became sick with fecal-borne illnesses including shigella, coliform, E. coli, norovirus and sapovirus. Today, the splash park reopened.
KDHE reported more than 200 people contacted them regarding their investigation into the splash park outbreak. Tanganyika Wildlife Park is facing a lawsuit that claims they “failed to maintain proper sanitary conditions at its splash park.”
The splash park incident led many Tanganyika Wildlife Park visitors to express their thoughts about the facility in the comments section.
“Their goal is money,” one commenter said. “Green, cold, hard, money. They barter and trade in exotic animal lives. Your sick kids mean nothing to them. I truly hope you all sue them into bankruptcy. The animals and this community would be a lot better off.”
June 2021 USDA report: