PETA Files USDA Complaint to Investigate Leopard Attack in Wildlife Preserve – Chico Enterprise-Record


Update: After the Enterprise-Record print deadline on Wednesday evening, the Barry R. Kirshner Wildlife Sanctuary sent a letter, signed by Executive Director Roberta Kirshner, to this publication in response to the complaint of PETA filed Wednesday with the USDA. Below is the letter in its entirety.

“I am blessed and fortunate to have spent my life working closely with exotic animals. It has been an incredibly rewarding journey and I can truly say that because I do what I love I have never worked a day in my life.

I am proud of the volunteers who dedicate so many hours and dedicate so much passion and dedication to the success of the mission of the Barry R. Kirshner Wildlife Foundation. The more than thirty years of experience in safety, education and awareness that we have obtained are testament to all those who have played their part.

The animals that reside at the Kirshner Foundation are a very special group. More than 70 percent have special needs, and they are often used as a last chance before being shot. The experience and expertise of myself, our volunteers and our local veterinary partners allow us to give these animals a quality life that they could not have anywhere else. In addition, the research and studies we conduct have contributed to the health and well-being of exotic animals around the world.

The rest of our animals are donated by establishments that know us and believe in our mission of education and excellence. Few things give us more joy than the look in someone’s eyes when they see an animal they could never see in nature and gain a new understanding and appreciation of nature.

We love our volunteers, partners and the community who have welcomed and supported us over the past three decades, and we look forward to many more years of touching lives, both human and animal, in a positive way. “

OROVILLE – People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals on Wednesday filed a complaint with USDA Director Robert Gibbens urging the federal agency to investigate the Barry R. Kirshner Wildlife Foundation following an incident on February 20 when an Amur leopard attacked a volunteer while feeding.

Managing Director Roberta Kirshner explained at a press conference after the attack that two volunteers were feeding the leopard – one inside and one outside of its enclosure – when “he jumped on the one of the girls ”. The volunteer was transported to Enloe Medical Center and spent the night under observation. The injuries were not considered life threatening, according to Rick Carhart of Cal Fire-Butte County.

PETA alleged that the wildlife foundation violated parts of federal animal welfare law to prohibit “direct contact between dangerous animals and the public,” including volunteers, and requirements that “enclosures keep animals confined and exhibitors demonstrate adequate knowledge of the species in their care. . The organization has suggested that the Kirshner Wildlife Foundation’s protocols are inadequate.

“Any feline expert knows that sending a volunteer into a cage with a powerful predator is a recipe for disaster,” said Debbie Metzler, PETA Foundation associate director for captive animal law enforcement, in a press release. “The Barry R. Kirshner Wildlife Foundation doesn’t know or care what they’re doing, and PETA calls on the USDA to hold this fictional sanctuary accountable for endangering volunteers, visitors and big cats. “

Kirshner said at the Feb.21 press conference that they had pages of established protocols for interactions between volunteers and animals. They said the animal has never been a threat to the public outside of its enclosure, which includes an indoor and outdoor fence, the latter of which is electrified, volunteer Angie Bracco said.

“They are dangerous animals,” Kirshner said. “I’ve been doing this for 30 years, and I’ve never had anything like it.”

Kirshner said the leopard, which was bred at the facility, will be kept on site.

” It’s not his fault. We just have to take more precautions because we don’t want this to happen again, ”she said.

The wildlife sanctuary has been cited in the past for AWA violations, with fines totaling $ 5,464, for six separate violations between November 2011 and August 2014. Five of the violations involved animal handling and one for failing to “establish and maintain veterinary care programs,” according to a copy of the USDA document to Kirshner.

PETA has long opposed certain wildlife operations, including the Kirshner Wildlife Sanctuary, which it says has been exploited by the animal entertainment industry saying it supports species conservation in order to attract client.

Metzler and PETA released a statement shortly after the February 21 incident, saying the leopard attack was “not a surprise.”

“PETA is hoping the public will now see this so-called ‘wildlife foundation’ for the fictional sanctuary that it is – an outfit with a history of Tiger King petting, a previous penalty for endangering the public and the blood of a volunteer on his hands, ”part of the statement read.

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