Feds: Primates frostbit in North Carolina lose tips of tails

Apr 14, 2022, 5:48 PM | Updated: Apr 15, 2022, 6:02 am

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Three primates suffered frostbite while enduring subfreezing conditions this year at an exotic animal farm operated by a North Carolina county commissioner that has been repeatedly cited by federal inspectors.

The latest citations, involving a black and white ruffed lemur, a De Brazza’s monkey and a capuchin, were issued in March by the U.S. Department of Agriculture against Zootastic Park of Lake Norman, The Charlotte Observer reported.

“The lemur’s hand was injured and remains contracted while the De Brazza’s and capuchin suffered the loss of their tail tips,” according to a copy of the federal inspection report, obtained by the animal-welfare group PETA.

Scottie Brown, the Iredell County commissioner who owns the park outside Charlotte, didn’t reply to a phone message from the newspaper on Thursday.

In another instance, the inspector saw a young howler monkey “hugging a live electric cord that was connected to a heating pad inside its enclosure.” That could have hurt or killed the monkey, the inspector wrote.

The USDA also cited Zootastic for medicating animals without a veterinarian present, allowing visitors unsupervised access to some animals and failing to document its purchase or disposal of at least a dozen animals, the inspection reports show.

Federal officials ordered Zootastic to fix all of the issues by late March, but didn’t fine the park for the violations.

In August 2021, a USDA inspector found that maggots had eaten the flesh of three wolves and that exotic squirrels showed signs of “self-trauma,” according to the newspaper.

An exotic tri-colored Prevost’s squirrel, native of Southeast Asia, had a superficial wound that Zootastic failed to report to its attending veterinarian, the inspector noted in her report.

The squirrel recently had its tail amputated at a veterinary hospital “due to apparent ongoing self-trauma,” the inspector wrote. Another Prevost’s squirrel previously had its tail amputated for the same reason, the inspector wrote.

By summer 2021, the USDA had inspected Zootastic 27 times since 2014, agency records reviewed by the Observer show. Inspectors cited the zoo for various animal-welfare violations on 14 of the visits, according to the documents.

In 2016, the USDA fined the zoo $7,450 for nine violations, including a poorly built enclosure that let a kinkajou escape. A lion cub at the zoo killed the tropical rain forest mammal, the inspection records showed.

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Feds: Primates frostbit in North Carolina lose tips of tails