USDA Cites Topeka Zoo For 6 Noncompliant Items

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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - The USDA has cited with the Topeka Zoo with six non-compliant items.

The citations stem from an unannounced inspection conducted April 24.

City officials released the inspection report Friday. The zoo says the two USDA inspectors visited in response to a complaint that the zoo had only one gorilla. While the complaint did not warrant a violation, the subsequent inspection revealed the non-compliant items, two of which related to the death of a gazelle and three which were corrected while inspectors were onsite.

Regarding the gazelle, the zoo was cited for adequate veterinary care and handling of animals. The inspection report states that, on Dec. 20, 2012, a four-year old male Addra gazelle was allowed into a small outdoor enclosure while staff was cleaning the indoor area which housed a total of three gazelles. The animals were being kept indoors at the time due to inclement weather. The inspection report states that, when the animal came back inside, it slipped and splayed its legs, which caused it to become nervous and repeatedly ram into the outdoor fencing, injuring its face and nose.

Four days later, the animal was found to have difficulty getting up and standing. The report states the animal continued to have difficulty standing and was knocked down by one of the other gazelles. Dec. 26, the animal was euthanized due to its deteriorating condition.

The report states the handling of the animal during the inclement weather was not done in a manner to prevent trauma and behavioral stress. In addition, the report states the treatment plan for the animal was not adjusted to address the repeated trauma and prevent further incidents.

The City says it is appealing at least one of those citations.

The other issues had to do with a tamarin letting itself out of a transport box, deterioration of wall in a lemur enclosure, a problem with the chain link fencing housing the pronghorn antelope, and improper storage of some fish that was part of the river otter diet.

“We had also already shared the issues surrounding the gazelle and the tamarin with our inspector in a meeting back in February,” said zoo director Brendan Wiley. “We also heard many positive things during this inspection,” Wiley said. Topping that list were compliments to the zoo’s elephant program. Both inspectors told zoo officials they were impressed by the zoo’s new management approach to its elephants. They also encouraged zoo officials to keep moving forward with enhancement plans.

“I think the USDA sees what we’re doing,” Wiley said. “For so many years, this has been a reactive organization. Over the past two years, we have become extremely proactive and are focused on returning to world-class status.”

The full inspection report is attached.


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