Photo and video evidence shows shady animal dealer Morgan Machnik of Premier Exotics in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, mistreating animals and Roadside Zoo News is urging the U.S. Department of Agriculture to investigate.
In May 2022, a witness said Machnik was scratched by a serval named Zuri and in response she threw Zuri to the floor. The force of impact broke Zuri’s leg. About a month later, Zuri was taken to a veterinarian where her leg was placed in a cast.
Machnik reportedly did not take Zuri to any of the required follow-up appointments. Zuri subsequently died.
The witness said Machnik was repeatedly abusive to the servals and other wildcats in her possession. The witness supplied video evidence, which the witness said is blurry due to being deleted and restored. One video shows Machnik choking a serval named Mufasa while holding his legs.
Mufasa is heard audibly growling in the video and appears to be in distress. His ears are back, he is vocalizing in terror and at the end of the video he appears to go limp, which would be a typical response to having your breathing restricted by a person’s hand.
The witness said that Machnik choked the wildcats on multiple occasions, but only one of the occasions was captured in the footage. In another video, Machnik is seen throwing a serval down and then smacking him twice while gripping his neck.
“He just sprayed all over,” Machnik is heard saying in the video, indicating her abusive treatment of the serval is punishment for the wildcat exhibiting behaviors that come naturally to him.
A second witness said that in June or July 2022 they saw Machnik throw a serval across a room.
Machnik has a history of flaunting USDA regulations by using her mother’s address as the address of her licensed business, all while keeping her exotic animals at unlicensed locations that do not meet the minimal requirements of the Animal Welfare Act.
Read more about Machnik here:
Machnik is currently renting an apartment in Milwaukee, which is the third unlicensed address she has kept her animals at in the past year, despite Roadside Zoo News’ repeated attempts to notify the USDA of her current address.
A screenshot of a text message supplied by Machnik indicates that USDA Inspector Dawn Barksdale is aware of Machnik’s address changes, but makes no effort to inspect these locations.
Had Barksdale inspected the New Berlin location of Premier Exotics upon corresponding with Machnik, she would have found that Machnik had abandoned animals in the basement of the residence.
The witness reports of abuse are not the only alarming issues occuring at Machnik’s facility. In May, an entire litter of serval kittens in Machnik’s care died, after the mother, Nova, became stressed and ate them.
In Sept. Machnik posted on social media that Nova was pregnant again. Nova recently gave birth and all of her kittens reportedly died again after Machnik took them from her to hand raise them.
Machnik has repeatedly sold and shipped servals to states where they’re illegal to keep as pets including Ohio, Utah and California. One witness said they were sold and shipped a serval but did not receive any of the required documents including a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection or an import permit.
A third witness said Machnik scammed them out of about $9,000 by selling them a serval that died less than a month after purchase, a bengal that died within weeks of purchase and selling them what was supposed to be a purebred cat, but DNA testing showed it was a mixed breed.
The animals in Machnik’s care are repeatedly put in stressful situations, in unnatural environments, with no way to escape conflict. Machnik is currently keeping a bobcat inside her apartment in a heavily populated city, in violation of both state and federal regulations.
Machnik exhibits the animals while they are not under her direct control. Machnik exhibited a bobcat loose inside a dealership garage with no direct control of the animal. She frequently transports the animals while they are loose in her vehicle, in violation of USDA regulations.
The list of evidence against Machnik and her disreputable business is damning and her cruel mistreatment of animals must be stopped. Roadside Zoo News has repeatedly submitted complaints about Machnik’s mistreatment of animals and the USDA refuses to take action.
Editor's note: On Jan. 4, 2023, the USDA conducted an inspection of Premier Exotics and cited Machnik for abusing servals and releasing a captive bobcat. She's also been cited with state wildlife violations. Click here for more information.