Anyone who loves animals will want to be supportive of a facility that claims to care for them and have their highest interests at heart. This explains why many people will jump at the opportunity to praise the work of cat and dog shelters, or why farm sanctuaries are gaining more and more attention, as awareness grows that farmed animals such as goats, cows, and pigs deserve to be regarded as friends, not food. All over the world, a growing number of brilliant animal sanctuaries make a true difference in the lives of their non-human residents every single day, by giving them a chance to live out their lives in peace, free from the threat of unnecessary human interference.
Unfortunately, there are certain “rescued animal” facilities that bring the entire animal rescue movement into disrepute by misleading members of the public about their true intentions. As heartbreaking as it is to believe, these places cannot accurately be described as sanctuaries, but are instead “scamtuaries,” pretending to carry out all of their operations in accordance with the best interest of their animals, but in reality, running themselves as for-profit enterprises and treating the animals as nothing more than props to entice as many visitors as possible.
A few years ago, one such facility, T.I.G.E.R.S Preservation Station and Safari in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, was exposed for making their tigers perform in shows, movies, fairs, and TV shows, in addition to forcing young cubs to pose for photographs with tourists. This supposed “conservation” facility was found to be doing very little to promote the conservation of tigers, as it had falsely claimed. Their animals were found to have been bred solely for profit and were highly unsuitable for release back into the wild.
The abuse of animals – especially when it is carried out under the false pretense of helping them – should never be ignored. The tell-tale signs of a “scamtuary” include the holding of endangered, exotic animals without being able to verify where they came from or how they found their way to the sanctuary, forcing animals to perform tricks, or allowing visitors to have close contact with the animals (such as photo opportunities). If you are ever tempted to visit a supposed animal sanctuary, but certain things about the way it operates make you uncomfortable, those signals should be acknowledged.
One “scamtuary” named Summer Wind Farms Sanctuary in Michigan is now being investigated by PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) for rampant animal neglect and cruelty. Summer Wind Farms holds a wide variety of animals, including bears, big cats, reptiles, and primates.
Sadly, an undercover PETA volunteer who worked part-time at the facility between March and May 2017 was shocked to discover the many abuses taking place there, including inadequate veterinary care and poor housing conditions.
Many of the animals were seen displaying stereotypic behaviors (signs of severe psychological distress in captive animals) such as shaking their heads from side to side and restlessly pacing through their enclosures.
A significant number of the sanctuary residents were found to be living in extremely muddy, feces-strewn, and cramped enclosures, without adequate space to roam or exercise their natural instincts. One two-year-old tiger named Daisy has spent almost her entire life at the facility and is yet to receive adequate care for her various medical issues, including impaired vision and seizures.
PETA states: “Despite its name, Summer Wind Farms is not a sanctuary; it’s a roadside zoo. This facility has been cited by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for over 200 animal welfare violations in just three years. Its inspector has stated repeatedly that the owner has an indifferent attitude towards animal welfare – which has fostered a ‘culture of indifference’ at the facility.”
The full list of the scamctuary’s misdeeds is truly damning. Last year, the USDA cited Summer Wind Farms for failing to provide appropriate veterinary treatment to three endangered ring-tailed lemurs. All of these lemurs have since died, including one who was just seven years old and had become partially paralyzed.
In one particularly tragic case, a tiger named JJ was shot in the head rather than being put through a humane, dignified euthanasia procedure.
A number of botched euthanizations on severely ill animals have also been performed there.
In 2016, the USDA filed a formal complaint against Summer Wind Farms, alleging that over two hundred willful violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act had occurred at the facility in the space of just four years. This has begun an enforcement proceeding that could result in revocation of the exhibitor’s license. A hearing will be held this July.
In an effort to help the scamtuary’s animals further, PETA is now running a petition aimed at getting Summer Wind Farms shut down so that the animals can be sent to reputable sanctuaries and receive the care they so desperately need. You can sign it here. For further information on how you can help animals by never supporting an abusive attraction such as Summer Wind Farms, read the articles below.
- How Animal ‘Sanctuaries’ Aren’t Always What They Seem
- How to Tell the Difference Between a Credible Exotic Animal Sanctuary and an Abusive Animal Attraction
- If It Looks Like Animal Cruelty, Don’t Let People Tell You It’s Conservation
Lead Image Source: People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals