Wildlife World Zoo, Aquarium & Safari Park trafficked 43 endangered species in the past two years


A clouded leopard at Wildlife World Zoo, Aquarium & Safari Park. Photo credit: Facebook/Wildlife World Zoo.

Wildlife World Zoo, Aquarium & Safari Park (WWZ) in Litchfield, Arizona, has sold or traded 240 animals in the past two years, including 43 endangered species, according to records obtained from the Arizona Department of Agriculture.


The records consist of more than 100 pages outlining wildlife trafficking occurring across the country. The documents show that in 2019 WWZ obtained a critically endangered clouded leopard cub from Zoosiana in Broussard, Louisiana, when the cub was only 12-days-old.


The U.S. Department of Agriculture prohibits the transport of nondomestic cats that are younger than 28 days of age, indicating WWZ’s acquisition of the clouded leopard cub was a violation of federal law.


Here is a timeline of WWZ’s exotic animal dispositions and wildlife trafficking from January 2020-October 2021:


January 6, 2020

WWZ sends one jaguar to Great Cats of the World Park in Cave Junction, Oregon.


January 18, 2020

WWZ sends one squirrel monkey, four Australian black swans, five llamas, two addax, two red lechwe, one Thomson’s gazelle, one sitatunga, three nyala, one Abdim’s stork, one curassow, two Eastern gray kangaroos, one olive baboon and two African spurred tortoises to Franklin Drive Thru Safari in Franklin, Texas.


January 28, 2020

WWZ sends two Arabian oryx, two addax and three red lechwe to Wildlife Partners in San Antonio, Texas.


March 19, 2020

WWZ sends one prehensile-tailed porcupine, one yellow armadillo, two plum-headed parakeets, one squirrel monkey, three capybara, one nyala, 24 gouldian finch and eight egyptian geese to Wildwood Wildlife Park in Minocqua, Wisconsin.


April 28, 2020

WWZ sends three Thomson’s gazelles, one Dama gazelle, one Nile lechwe, one blesbok antelope, two springbok gazelle, two addax, one Arabian oryx, one blue wildebeest, one ring-tailed lemur, two squirrel monkeys, five black-backed jackals and seven capybaras to Franklin Drive Thru Safari in Franklin, Texas.


April 28, 2020

WWZ sends one giraffe to Wild Acres Ranch in Sandusky, Ohio.


April 29, 2020

WWZ sends 10 Cape Barren geese, three spur-winged geese, one red-legged seriema, one Vonder Decken’s hornbill and three black swans to Franklin Drive Thru Safari in Franklin, Texas.


May 1, 2020

WWZ sends one reticulated giraffe to Wildlife Partners in San Antonio, Texas.


May 18, 2020

WWZ sends two jaguars to Great Cats of the World Park in Cave Junction, Oregon.


May 28, 2020

WWZ sends three red river hogs and four warthogs to Lazy 5 Ranch Zoo in Mooresville, North Carolina.


May 29, 2020

WWZ sends two squirrel monkeys to Pine Grove Zoo in Little Falls, Minnesota.


September 26, 2020

WWZ sends two dama gazelles, one sitatunga, one nyala and one springbok to Wildlife Partners in San Antonio, Texas.


October 29, 2020

North Carolina animal transporter Coleman Phifer of Premier Animal Logistics picks up numerous animals from WWZ and transports them to various locations across the country including:

  • Two squirrel monkeys that were sent to Pine Grove Zoo in Little Falls, Minnesota.

  • Three addax that were sent to Safari Lake Geneva in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin.

  • One Arabian oryx that was sent to Wildwood Wildlife Park in Minocqua, Wisconsin.

  • Four Impalas, one red river hog and two Thomson’s gazelles that were sent to Lazy 5 Ranch in Mooresville, North Carolina.

  • One colobus monkey that was sent to Metro Richmond Zoo in Mosely, Virginia.

  • Five capybaras that were sent to Wild Acres Ranch in Sandusky, Ohio.


November 13, 2020

WWZ sends three dama gazelles, one African warthog and four nyalas to Wildlife Partners in San Antonio, Texas.


November 17, 2020

WWZ sends four black-footed penguins to Bright’s Zoo in Limestone, Tennessee.


March 16, 2021

WWZ sends one Arabian oryx, two red-handed tamarins, four blue-bellied rollers and two Indian star tortoises to Wildwood Wildlife Park in Minocqua, Wisconsin.


March 16, 2021

WWZ sends one peacock and one ring-tailed lemur to Gulf Breeze Zoo in Gulf Breeze, Florida.


April 13, 2021

WWZ sends one Thomson’s gazelle, one sitatunga, one white-handed gibbon, two nilgai, one Nile lechwe and one blesbok to WF Exotics in Helotes, Texas.


April 20, 2021

WWZ sends three addax, two nyala, two blue-bellied rollers and one red-legged seriema to Safari Lake Geneva in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin.


May 7, 2021

WWZ sends one red kangaroo, one Impala, one Nile lechwe and one nyala to Wildlife Partners in San Antonio, Texas.


July 19, 2021

WWZ sends one red river hog to Barn Hill Preserve in Ethel, Louisiana.


July 26, 2021

WWZ sends three African lions, one jaguar and three Asian small-clawed otters to Great Cats of the World Park in Cave Junction, Oregon.


August 19, 2021

WWZ sends one jaguar to Tanganyika Wildlife Park in Goddard, Kansas.


August 25, 2021

WWZ sends three capybaras to Spring River Zoo in Roswell, New Mexico.


August 28, 2021

WWZ sends one jaguar to Tanganyika Wildlife Park in Goddard, Kansas.


September 2, 2021

WWZ sends one jaguar to Orange County Zoo in Orange, California.


October 1, 2021

WWZ sends four addax, six blue-bellied rollers, seven abdim storks, two rock hyrax, four capybaras, seven agouti and two small-clawed otters to Franklin Drive Thru Safari in Franklin, Texas.


The records also indicate that several zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) offloaded animals at WWZ, which is a non-accredited roadside zoo, during that time period. Those zoos include:

  • The Bramble Park Zoo in Watertown, South Dakota, who sent four capuchin monkeys to WWZ on January 9, 2020.

  • The San Diego Zoo Safari Park in San Diego, California, who sent three red-crested turaco, two Ross’s turaco and one rainbow lorikeet to WWZ on February 21, 2020; and sent a white rhino to WWZ in March 2021 for breeding purposes.

  • The El Paso Zoo in El Paso, Texas, who sent two pronghorns to WWZ on September 29, 2020.

  • The Bronx Zoo in Bronx, New York, who sent one swamp wallaby to WWZ on November 9, 2020.

The documents show that in the past two years WWZ has shipped numerous species across state lines to be used in commerce including species that are designated as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act. Those animals include:

  • Three African lions

  • Seven jaguars

  • Five Arabian oryx

  • Five red lechwe

  • One white-handed gibbon

  • Two ring-tailed lemurs

  • Four black-footed penguins

  • 16 addax

The documents also indicate that WWZ frequently supplies animals to wildlife trafficker Jason Clay, who owns Franklin Drive Thru Safari in Franklin, Texas, and East Texas Zoo and Gator Park in Grand Saline, Texas.


Clay is currently under investigation related to a 2019 homicide that occurred near his Franklin Drive Thru Safari location. He is also on felony deferred probation for two 2018 charges of felony aggravated assault causing serious bodily harm and felony exploitation of a child, elderly individual, or disabled individual.


In 2021, Clay’s two Texas roadside zoos were cited with 26 violations of the Animal Welfare Act and an Official Warning. Infractions included failing to provide water to animals, failing to provide veterinary care to animals including a giraffe and a hippo that died, keeping animals in filthy enclosures, and for failing to maintain documentation for more than 330 animals that were acquired or disposed of at the two facilities.


Out of the 240 animals that WWZ disposed of from 2020 through 2021, 103 of the animals, or 43%, were sent to Clay, where many of them disappeared, according to USDA inspection reports. It is unclear how many of the reptiles and birds that were sent from WWZ to Franklin Drive Thru Safari remained at the facility because the USDA currently does not count those species on animal inventories.


A comparison of Franklin Drive Thru Safari's December 2018 and June 2021 animal inventories indicates that of the 71 animals WWZ sent to Franklin Drive Thru Safari in 2020, the following animals (excluding birds and reptiles) are no longer there: Five llamas, two red lechwe, two grey kangaroos, one olive baboon, three Thomson's gazelles, one dama gazelle, four addax, one Arabian oryx, one ring-tailed lemur, two squirrel monkeys, five black backed jackals and three capybaras.


On October 1, 2021, WWZ sent 32 animals to Franklin Drive Thru Safari. A comparison of Franklin Drive Thru Safari’s June 2021 and January 2022 USDA animal inventories indicate the following animals (excluding birds and reptiles) are no longer there: Four addax, four capybaras, seven agoutis and two small clawed otters.


Of the missing animals, several are classified by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as endangered or threatened species including Arabian oryx, red lechwe, ring-tailed lemur and addax.


More than 200 animals have disappeared from Clay’s two Texas roadside zoos in the past seven months, according to USDA records.


The records show that from June 15, 2021, through January 18, 2022, 181 animals disappeared from the Franklin Drive Thru Safari location including three waterbucks, two Grevy’s zebras, five Chapman’s plains zebras, four rock hyrax, five white-headed capuchin, three black & white ruffed lemurs, one lar gibbon, 11 cattle, one prehensile-tailed porcupine, three African crested porcupines, 20 black-tailed prairie dogs, two blackbucks, two black wildebeests, one tufted deer, nine Reeve’s muntjac, three nilgai, one Asiatic water buffalo, two bison, one llama, one giraffe, two gray kangaroos, two kinkajous, two agile wallabies, three Bennett's wallabies, three zebus, two ring-tailed lemurs, three brown lemurs, one small clawed otter, six scimitar horned oryx, two tammar wallabies, one Thomson’s gazelle, five brown-throated sloths, seven dromedary camels, two lesser kudus, three nyalas, one sitatunga, one aardvark, nine patas monkeys, two siamang, 13 common squirrel monkeys, seven common marmosets, six javan gibbons, two vervets, five South American coatimundis, two white-throated tayras, three tayras, five common elands and one fennec fox.


From November 10, 2021 through January 24, 2022, 11 animals disappeared from East Texas Zoo and Gator Park. Those animals include five common elands, two otters, two black & white ruffed lemurs, one domestic exotic hybrid cat and one fennec fox.


The records indicate a pattern of wildlife trafficking between roadside zoos and AZA accredited zoos across the country.

 

Wildlife World Zoo, Aquarium & Safari Park animal transfer records:

records (1)
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