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Tennessee petting zoo cited 11 times by Feds

Stock image of a ringtail lemur.

Rocking Dirt Road Farms, Dyersburg, TN, has been cited with 11 non-critical violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act.

During a June 9 inspection, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) witnessed numerous issues of noncompliance at the roadside petting zoo.

The inspector documented a zebu whose hooves were so overgrown they were “sled like” in appearance.

A goat was so thin its backbone was visible “with a continuous ridge.” The goat’s ribs were visible, with only a small amount of fat cover.

“In addition, there appears to be muscle loss,” the inspector said in the report.

The indoor portion of the ringtail lemur building was filled with empty food bags, boxes, trash, dirty buckets, plastic bins and fall decor items, “all not necessary for animal husbandry,” the inspector noted.

A shelf held numerous empty plastic bins with shavings. The inspector noted food waste, dirt, and cobwebs covered the floor, walls and the items stored in the lemur building.

A tube that connected the outdoor portion of the lemur enclosure to the indoor portion was damaged and flattened from the bottom to the top which reduced the diameter of the opening of the tube by at least 50%, leaving a very small opening for the lemur, according to the report. The inspector observed that the lemur was able to squeeze through the opening, but said the tube needs to be repaired and the interior should be evaluated “to ensure there are no sharp points or edges.”

The ringtail lemur at the facility had previously lived with another lemur but was now being housed alone, completely isolated without the ability to see or hear nonhuman primates of a compatible species.

“Ringtail lemurs exist in social groups in nature and have social needs that must be addressed to provide for their psychological well-being,” the inspector said.

The ringtail lemur was only being fed a “small round pelleted feed.” The petting zoo told the inspector that the normal diet for the lemur is fruits, vegetables, turkey/meat, and all stock feed.

“The feed on the floor and in the feed pails did not resemble any of those items,” the inspector noted.

“Ringtail lemurs need to be fed a diet of sufficient nutritive value to meet their normal daily nutritional requirements according to generally accepted professional and husbandry practices and nutritional standards,” the inspector said in the report. “The current diet does not meet these standards.”

The food dishes for the lemur were on the floor and were filthy and covered in a “dried caked on peanut butter colored material.”

The indoor portion of the lemur enclosure was covered in food debris and dried food kibbles that were deteriorating and crumbling on the ground.

“There is a greasy brown layer of grime present on all hard surfaces of the enclosure (bars, transfer tube, perches, toys), on the white walls adjacent to two of the sides of the enclosure and on the floor,” the inspector said.

The outdoor portion of the lemur enclosure was covered in “thick green weeds, grasses and bush like weeds,” that were over five feet tall. There were so many weeds that the inspector could not see the floor of the enclosure.

One wall of the lemur building was also covered in “days old fecal material” from pigs.

The only dry feed for the animals at the roadside zoo was an all stock feed, a pelleted alfalfa and a kangaroo diet. The feed bin for the pigs was empty.

“The feed receptacles were empty Wednesday morning during the inspection and it is unknown when the feed will arrive on Thursday.”

According to USDA requirements, animals must be fed at least once a day.

The water receptacles for some of the animals were dirty.

“The water level in two of the pig's receptacles was quite low and the water was visibly contaminated with mud,” the inspector said. “The third receptacle had clear water in it but multiple small clumps of vegetative matter were floating on top.”

The inspector described the water receptacle for the coatimundi as “opaque with a silvery film on top. Vegetative matter was seen floating on the surface.”

“Water receptacles must be kept clean and filled with potable water to provide for the hydration needs of the animals,” the inspector noted.

The facility was also cited for not allowing the inspector access to acquisition/disposition records, the program of veterinary care or environmental enhancement plan. Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service requires these documents to be kept on site and available for review. The facility told the inspector the documents weren’t available due to “lack of access to the computer that holds the records” because they had no power cord.

Rocking Dirt Road Farms was given one day to correct the most serious violations, and they had until June 21 to correct the less serious violations. It is unclear if the USDA has been back to reinspect the facility.


June 9, 2021 USDA inspection report:

Download PDF • 172KB


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