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Tanganyika Wildlife Park Asks Public To Comment On Animal Welfare Petition

Abigail Wilson
Travis, a southern black rhinocerous at Tanganyika.

The staff at Tanganyika Wildlife Park has been asking the community to comment on a petition for a proposed rule change to the Animal Welfare Act. KMUW’s Aileen LeBlanc has more on the USDA's proposed changes for the handling of some animals in captivity.

Tanganyika Wildlife Park prides itself on allowing visitors to interact with animals in ways that they can’t at most zoos. That's also how the privately owned zoo brings in a lot of its revenue: by charging extra to get close to their hippos, rhinos and ring-tailed lemurs.

The petition was proposed in August 2013, but the comment period was extended recently. The changes would define which animals are "dangerous," and set out rules for governing barriers between them and the public.

In June a 3-year-old boy fell into a gorilla enclosure at a Cincinnati zoo, and the animal had to be killed. Tanganyika says that it has 30 years of experience working with their animals, they follow all of the current rules and that there is no reason for further across-the-board regulation. The park says in a statement that they could lose as much as $750,000, a third of their budget, and threaten the survival of the of the park in total.

The petition, started by animal rights groups, could eliminate public contact with big cats, bears and some primates. The law would force the closure of the park's lemur island, where guests can feed the primates, as well as other feeding stations for rhinos and hippos. It would also result in the displacement of more than 400 rare and endangered species and threaten the park's breeding programs.


Aileen LeBlanc is news director at KMUW. Follow her on Twitter @Aileen_LeBlanc.

To contact KMUW News or to send in a news tip, reach us at news@kmuw.org.