fleas eating animals zoo

Animal rights activists are requiring an animal cruelty investigation at a zoo in Bakersfield, California, after three animals kicked the bucket there — one starving skunk this year, and two flea-infested fisher cats last year.

The Kern County Superintendent of Schools runs the roadside zoo, which is known as the California Living Museum, as per PETA, that required the Sheriff’s Office to dispatch an examination concerning the zoo and its administrators on Wednesday.

“Any reasonable animal care facility would notice if an animal were starving to death or if fleas were eating animals alive,” Brittany Peet, PETA’s director of captive animal law enforcement, said in a statement.

Peet asked authorities “to hold the California Living Museum responsible for the neglect that led to these animals’ slow, painful deaths.”

Peet wrote in a July 10 letter to Kern County Sheriff Don Youngblood that the zoo “subjected the animals to ‘unnecessary cruelty’ and ‘needless suffering’ … in violation of California law prohibiting cruelty to animals.”

Delegates for the California Living Museum said in an announcement reacting to PETA that they “strongly disagree with PETA’s allegations of animal cruelty at CALM. We would like to assure the community that we work tirelessly to provide the best care possible for our animals and consider their health and welfare to be our top priority.”

The zoo’s announcement said the office “has cared for tens of thousands of animals in our community with passion and commitment, and we do a great job,” though “animal deaths do occur.”

Over the most recent year, the zoo said it has attempted to improve conditions, including a full-time animal keeper, expanding nearby veterinary consideration and including prepared docents and volunteers.

Kern County Sheriff’s Office representative Angela Monroe wrote in an email to McClatchy that “based on the complaint, we will conduct a preliminary investigation, and forward any reports to appropriate authorities.”

U.S. Division of Agriculture investigation reports at the zoo, which were gotten by PETA and posted on the web, found that in the 2018 fisher cat deaths“failure to treat health conditions may lead to unnecessary pain and distress in animals, and in this case, their death.”

A U.S. Branch of Agriculture report after the skunk’s February 2019 demise said that a “records review revealed an uncharacteristically high mortality rate at this facility since” the beginning of 2018. Records said there were “no food or feces in the intestinal tract” of the skunk and that it showed signs of a viral infection.

“Both the curator and the skunk caretaker on duty at the time of the inspection stated that there was no procedure in place to ensure that all the animals in shared enclosures were eating,” as indicated by the subsequent report, which was finished in April 2019.

The report on the fisher cats’ demises said the animals kicked the bucket in the spring of 2018 “after staff failed to treat them for a severe flea infestation.”

That report found that in a note on April 3, 2018, a caretaker wrote of two fisher cats: “… Also watched a great deal of scratching today. Might need to think about flea meds, if possible…”

However, a guardian said “no move was made” about the scratching and the animals were discovered dead on April 23 and May 3, as indicated by the report.

The first fisher cat to die didn’t get a necropsy from a veterinarian, the U.S. Division of Agriculture investigation report stated, however, the subsequent feline did — and the animal’s necropsy report proposed a serious insect invasion: “…OPENED BAG THOUSANDS OF FLEAS – FROZE BODY OVERNIGHT TO KILL … External exam: thousands of fleas….”

PETA said the association wrote to Kern County schools encouraging the administrator “to transfer the surviving animals (at the California Living Museum) to reputable facilities. PETA offered its assistance in finding appropriate placements for the animals, but that offer was refused on July 9.”

The zoo additionally said in its announcement reacting to PETA that the animal rights group’s “stated position is that they are against all animals in captivity and are opposed to zoos. We trust the community will support CALM as we continuously work to enhance our local zoo.”