PETA Succeeds in Rescuing the Last 9 Animals Housed at South Carolina’s Defunct Waccatee Zoo

PETA to the rescue!

In September 2022, the controversial Waccatee Zoo in Myrtle Beach announced it would be permanently closing its gates, according to a letter from the zoo’s attorney, Reese Boyd.

Five months prior, PETA had filed a lawsuit against the facility alleging that it confined and exhibited over 460 animals in conditions in which they were deprived of appropriate veterinary care and other necessities.

In response to an inquiry by PETA, Boyd stated, “Because of the ongoing expense of this litigation and other considerations, my client has determined that its only feasible option is to close the Zoo and discontinue further operations.”

neglected tiger
Photo: PETA

As early as September 8, witnesses in the area reported the quiet disappearance of animals from their exhibits as they were allegedly whisked off the property to parts unknown.

At the time, Brittany Peet, a General Council Captive Law enforcement member with PETA, said, “That is why we filed an emergency motion in federal court yesterday seeking several different types of relief. Ultimately, Waccatee’s stunt trying to unilaterally remove animals from its facility deprived PETA of the ability to prove its case. Those animals are technically evidence in the case.”

rescue emu
Photo: PETA/Malinda Riquelme

Peet added, “Every single animal at that facility has been subjected to chronic and intensive neglect.” Over time, Waccatee had racked up several animal welfare violations, was heavily fined, and ultimately dubbed by PETA as “the worst roadside zoo in America.”

Today, PETA and The Wild Animal Sanctuary (TWAS) rescued the last nine animals residing there — a llama, two North American black bears, and six emus. They are now on their way to a TWAS sanctuary in Colorado.

“Waccatee spent years exploiting vulnerable animals and allowing suffering ones to languish in cramped enclosures, but now these survivors will get the care they so desperately need and deserve,” Peet continued. “Thanks to the lawsuit by PETA and concerned citizens, as well as the sanctuary provided by TWAS, this shoddy roadside zoo has been shuttered and animals have been saved.”

black bear with skin condition
Photo: PETA/Melinda Riquelme

Per PETA, both black bears, who are underweight and suffer from a chronic skin condition, “will receive immediate veterinary care at the sanctuary, where, following their rehabilitation, they’ll have acres to explore, soft ground for digging, and opportunities for climbing, foraging, and socializing with other bears. The llama and emus will have a massive enclosure with space to take shelter from wind and rain as well as warm indoor areas.”

To get an idea of the conditions these poor creatures were living in, check out the YouTube video below (if you can stomach it) depicting Lila the tiger’s bleak existence in the “House of Horrors” before eventually succumbing to an avoidable death.

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