For Immediate Release:
October 12, 2023
David Perle 202-483-7382
Iredell County, N.C. – PETA has discovered that Iredell County Commissioner Scottie Brown, who owns the local roadside facility Zootastic Park, sold animals in September at the Mt. Hope Auction’s Mid Ohio Alternative Animal and Bird Sale, where a just-released PETA exposé documented that exhibitors sold animals suffering from severe and obvious injuries and illnesses and uncovered numerous apparent violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA).
Brown appears to have sold multiple animals, including a squirrel monkey, at the auction. PETA’s investigation also reveals that local roadside zoo operator Henry Hampton of Lazy 5 Ranch sold kangaroos, who were roughly handled and dragged around by their tails and relegated to tiny barren pens when they weren’t on the auction floor. At the notorious auction, the group’s eyewitnesses documented that animals had sustained broken legs and open wounds and that others were emaciated, pacing frantically, and biting their cages. Multiple animals were confined without water and were kept in crowded pens and cages, some so small that they couldn’t stand upright or turn around.
In response, PETA submitted a formal complaint to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) on October 5 demanding an investigation into the auction, which has been cited for violations of the AWA 36 times—including 19 repeat citations—since September 2022.
Top: Kangaroos are for sale at the auction. Bottom: Brown, wearing a tan ball cap, is pictured at the event. Photos: PETA
“This auction is a nightmare for the thousands of animals who are sold like pieces of old furniture to people who likely don’t have the resources, knowledge, or desire to care for them properly,” says PETA Foundation Director of Captive Animal Welfare Debbie Metzler. “PETA urges families never to buy a ticket to Zootastic Park, Lazy 5 Ranch, or any other cruel roadside zoo that auctions off wildlife like trinkets.”
PETA notes that Hampton has been investigated by the USDA for years and hit with hundreds of citations for violating federal law at his roadside zoos and that Brown has been repeatedly cited and received multiple official warnings from the USDA. The agency previously cited Zootastic Park for failing to provide animals with adequate veterinary care, noting that the tails of two squirrels at the facility had been amputated because of apparent “self-trauma.” The roadside zoo has also been cited for failing to provide animals with basic protection from the elements, causing them to suffer from frostbite in below-freezing weather.
PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to abuse in any way”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. For more information on PETA’s investigative newsgathering and reporting, please visit PETA.org, listen to The PETA Podcast, or follow the group on X (formerly Twitter), Facebook, or Instagram.