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Allegations leveled against Oklahoma's G.W. Exotic Animal Park by Humane Society of the United States

The Humane Society of the United States has filed formal complaints of unsafe handling of deadly animals, questionable breeding practices and other violations of state and federal law against the G.W. Exotic Animal Park in Wynnewood.
by Andrew Knittle Published: May 17, 2012

An animal advocacy group has accused G.W. Exotic Animal Park in Wynnewood of unsafe handling of deadly animals, questionable breeding practices and other violations of state and federal law.

The owner of the park denies the allegations.

The Humane Society of the United States has filed formal complaints against the park with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation after one of its employees worked undercover there for several months last year, according to a news release from the organization.

Joe Schreibvogel, owner of G.W. Exotic Animal Park since 1999, said the entire report is the end result of an elaborate publicity stunt by the Humane Society, which he claims is more concerned with influencing lawmakers than helping animals.

The 54-acre animal park is just east of Interstate 35 in Wynnewood, roughly 65 miles south of Oklahoma City. It's home to 170 big cats and hundreds of other non-native species, many of them abandoned pets at one time.

A report issued by the Humane Society claims the undercover employee witnessed or “heard reports about numerous dangerous public interactions” at the park, including at least six park visitors who were either bitten or scratched by tiger cubs.

Many exotic animals

Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the Humane Society, said the G.W. Exotic Animal Park has one of the largest populations of “dangerous exotic animals” in the United States among roadside zoos.

“At this facility, children are allowed to play with tigers as if they are domestic kittens, rather than wild cats soon to mature into the some of the world's most lethal carnivores,” Pacelle said.

The Humane Society investigator also alleges in the report that at least five tigers died last summer under questionable circumstances.

Other findings detailed in the report allege that a “federally protected” hawk was placed in a trash bin while still alive and that small children were placed inside enclosures with unrestrained wolves and wolf hybrids.

The report also alleges that G.W. Exotic Animal Park employees, many of whom weren't properly trained to handle large predators, were urged to lie about the ages of certain big cats being used to interact with the public since federal law prohibits such practices with animals deemed “too mature” — typically older than 12 weeks.

Video footage provided by the Humane Society also shows a small child being attacked by a tiger cub, but the animal park's owner says the undercover employee — who was present when the incident unfolded — provoked the attack.

Report a ‘setup'

Schreibvogel said the Humane Society's undercover employee, who he named as Timothy Moyer, was sent to work at his animal park to further the agenda of the animal rights organization.

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by Andrew Knittle
Investigative Reporter
Andrew Knittle has covered state water issues, tribal concerns and major criminal proceedings during his career as an Oklahoma journalist. He has won reporting awards from the state's Associated Press bureau and prides himself on finding a real...
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