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Valley of the Kings Sanctuary fails first re-licensing inspection; cited with three violations

A tiger in an enclosure at Valley of the Kings Sanctuary. Photo credit: Facebook/VOTK.

Valley of the Kings Sanctuary in Sharon, Wisconsin, has failed their first re-licensing inspection and they’ve been cited with three violations of the Animal Welfare Act.

Valley of the Kings Sanctuary (VOTK) is an unaccredited nonprofit facility that is closed to the public and only open to paying members by appointment.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture conducted a re-licensing inspection at VOTK on Dec. 16, 2021, and found that the facility was providing incorrect doses of medication to three tigers and a black leopard. VOTK was giving the animals double the recommended dosage of medication.

“Distributing incorrect doses of medications could have negative impacts on the animals,” according to the USDA inspection report.

The USDA found that the facility was storing dog food bags next to the wall or on the aisle way floor, which does not allow for cleaning underneath or around them and prevents inspection for evidence of pests.

The inspector found that the enclosure for a tiger named Tia was in disrepair and one inspector was able to move two of the wood posts two inches when pushing on them, which could affect the safe containment of the tiger.

The inspector also found a bobcat enclosure that had a metal post in it that was rusted through, and the edges of the post could injure the animals.

VOTK was cited with three non critical violations for the infractions. The inspection was a re-licensing inspection. Due to the violations, the USDA denied the re-licensing application. The USDA ordered VOTK to come into compliance within the next two USDA inspections or they would have to wait six months to reapply for a USDA license.

On Dec. 29, VOTK closed to visitors, citing COVID-19.

The USDA conducted a focused inspection on Jan. 13 and identified no non-compliant issues at VOTK. The facility’s USDA license is now active through 2024.

Last year, a barn roof collapsed at VOTK, trapping goats, pigs, emus and other animals inside. The sanctuary posted on social media that the barn was not insured and they immediately established several fundraisers to cover the cost of reconstructing the barn. The facility raised more than $24,000 in donations.

Social media posts indicate the foundation for the barn was completed in May 2021. The last update about the barn was in July 2021, when the sanctuary posted that the barn was fully funded and the wall and roof supplies were set to be delivered, but VOTK was having issues with zoning and getting a variance to rebuild on the same site. It is unclear if further construction has been completed.

On Jan. 28, 2022, VOTK sent out an email to their volunteers in an attempt to solicit positive reviews.

“Someone is writing bad reviews and we need to add enough good ones to hide them,” VOTK Director Angel Matthews said in the email.

An examination of reviews indicates that on Nov. 14, 2021, a reviewer claimed VOTK has allowed several big cats to die a slow death rather than humanely euthanizing them.

“Is it legal for the owner to euthanize the animals?” the reviewer questioned. “Isn’t a license required; not to mention diagnosing and administering controlled drugs?”

A Jan. 19, 2022, reviewer posted that VOTK is run down and old, and the facility is haphazardly managed.

“When I visited, there was a poor lion that was skin and bones and couldn’t move; how is that humane?” the reviewer said.


December 2021 VOTK USDA Inspection Report:

Download PDF • 241KB


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