What should you do when you visit a roadside zoo?


a hyena at Animal Haven Zoo, Weyauwega, WI

With the unofficial start of summer behind us, many people will be flocking to roadside zoos. If you find yourself at a shady roadside zoo, here are a few things you can do to help the animals:


  1. Gather evidence. Take photos and videos. Document what you see; you don’t have to be an animal expert to notice an animal in distress. Photograph the food and water in the enclosures. Photograph the size of the enclosures. Photograph the cleanliness. Take note of how many staff members are caring for the animals.

  2. Report it. File an animal welfare complaint with the USDA by visiting https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/ourfocus/animalwelfare/complaint-form and call the local police or sheriffs department and file a report. Every time you report the animal neglect a document trail begins to form. These documents can be used as evidence to shut these facilities down.

  3. Share it. Now is not the time to be silent. Share what you’ve seen on social media. Leave a review on the zoo’s page. You can also submit roadside zoo information anonymously by emailing roadsidezoonews@gmail.com.


The allure of roadside zoos is overwhelming. Who wouldn’t want to get up close and cuddle adorable baby animals? But the reality is this: Those babies were stolen from their mothers and they will suffer the rest of their lives in solitary confinement in what amounts to a tiny prison cell.


The animals at roadside zoos can’t speak, so you need to be their voice.