Crime & Courts

Feds file 110-count complaint against Catawba animal park

In a 110-count complaint, federal investigators say Buffalo Beals Animal Park in Maiden has “willfully violated” the Animal Welfare Act since at least 2009 by failing to clean animal living quarters, to provide adequate veterinary care and to keep the public away from water buffalo, elk, giraffes and monkeys.

In May, a rhesus macaque monkey escaped its enclosure and bit a 3-year-old child, according to the complaint filed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The park had no attending veterinarian, nor a written program for veterinary care of its animals, federal inspectors said they found that month.

Since 2009, inspectors have discovered numerous untreated conditions on animals, including a llama with a swollen mass on the side of its face, according to the complaint.

Federal investigators also made these allegations in the complaint:

•  A goat with visible skin problems, a thin goat and multiple goats with overgrown hooves were discovered during a 2010 federal inspection, along with four babydoll sheep that needed shearing and a dwarf rabbit with multiple scabs in both ears.

•  In 2013, a goat was found dead. It had swelling in its jaw area but hadn’t been seen by a veterinarian.

•  In 2010, inspectors found that the public was permitted direct contact with 100 animals without an adequate number of attendants or employees present.

•  Park workers failed to clean numerous animal enclosures over the years, allowing excessive amounts of feces to build up and a strong smell of ammonia to linger, the complaint says.

Terry and Kim Beal, owners of the 40-acre park on Water Plant Road, didn’t reply to requests for comment from the Observer on Friday.

The complaint says the park has continued to fail to develop, document and follow an appropriate plan for “environmental enhancement to promote the psychological well-being of nonhuman primates.”

Without proper conditions, a rhesus macaque in 2009 “had begun to self-mutilate,” the complaint says.

Housing facilities for macaques, lemurs, monkeys and baboons weren’t cleaned or sanitized, and shelter from the weather was inadequate, inspectors said.

The park also failed to sanitize rabbit enclosures, and the sides of the enclosures had a thick buildup of crystallized urine, according to the complaint.

Inspectors said they found rotting food stored with food intended to be fed to the animals. They also found dirty refrigerators, rodent feces and flies in the food preparation area.

The federal government will await the Beals’ answer to its complaint before it takes any action against the park.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals first complained to the federal government about the park in 2010.

“With these charges, Buffalo Beals’ days of flagrantly violating the laws designed to protect animals are numbered,” PETA Foundation lawyer Delcianna Winders said in a statement.