Here are some things that used to be a reality that have changed since1967:
One only need to watch a youtube video of the ride to see the absolutely disgusting way the animals are being penned in shockingly small cages without grass or amusement, (sometimes even without shelter from the elements) next to noisy amusement park rides. Lagoon has been cited multiple times by the Utah Department of Agriculture and do not meet the minimum standards of accreditation established by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Plagued by rumors of intentional animal abuse and cruelty at the hands of young, untrained keepers, public opinion has been turning against Lagoon for a long time - but not enough to make them change. A bear once received second-degree burns in the face because a train conductor deliberately blew steam in its face.
Are you upset yet? Because there is more. Here are just a few of the incidents that have led the USDA to cite Lagoon for failing to comply with the ridiculously lax federal Animal Welfare Act:
In 2004, a USDA inspection found that animals that required hoof and nail trimming (without space to run, how would they get enough exercise to maintain them naturally?) were limping and almost unable to walk - one deer’s hooves were “at least 4 inches long.” Despite the inspector’s assessment and experience, the inadequately trained keeper simply “disagreed” that anything needed to be done, showing a shocking lack of interest in their job. Citations for failing to provide adequate veterinary care and keep proper records concerning how these animals were obtained or disposed of are coming as often as inspections occur. A deer enclosure was noted to have inadequate draining, leaving the deer standing in five inches of mud filled with their own feces. They have also been cited for selling animals for slaughter, improperly trained staff, lack of shelter for animals against the elements, and failing to recognize the seriousness of animal sickness and diseases. A rubber band around the toe of one animal and inadequate care of the subsequent infection led to its euthanization.
People have suffered, as well. In 1996, a 16-year-old girl working the train ride obviously wasn’t given adequate training regarding how to safely interact with the animals, and was severely bitten by a cougar after sticking her arm in the cage. In 2013 an animal keeper was hospitalized in serious condition after being gored in the leg by a wildebeest. Multiple social media posts from parents document what was supposed to be a fun, educational ride for their children left their children in tears after seeing how sad the animals were.
As a type-A, it absolutely floors me that an organization can take such repeat violations of state and federal laws without any remorse or attempts to avoid future issues. Public opinion has completely turned away from Lagoon on this issue, so maintaining this expensive but “boring” ride (as cited by multiple reviews) in the face of waning popularity and growing backlash and bad press is mind-boggling. If you Google “Lagoon Wild Animal Kingdom Ride” the first three page results are almost entirely bad press. Yet they stubbornly persist and continue to violate basic standards of decency and humanity.
Multiple petitions exist and protests have been taking place for years to fight for the well-being of these suffering animals. If you want to get involved, you can find information on the Facebook page “Stop Imprisoning Animals! Lagoon Amusement Park.” The petition on thepetitionsite.com is “Persuade Lagoon Amusement Park to close down its “Zoo.” There is another called “Demand for Relocation of Lagoon’s Park Animals.” The Utah Animal Right’s Coalition shares details on their website and Facebook page when there are updates (like the deer who was gored by a bison last year after crawling through a space in the poorly-kept fencing) and protests. Leave a bad review for Lagoon on TripAdvisor.com or other travel websites. Be sure if you are posting on social media about these abuses to tag Lagoon, and let them know that this is going to affect them where it hurts - in their pocketbook. And of course, don’t go to Lagoon and give them your money until they get rid of this ride - and make sure they know it!
Sadly, because the ride meets the minimum USDA standards that animals need cages big enough to turn around in (ugh - I’d like to put whoever made that law in a cage big enough to turn around in and see how they like it after ten years), it is unlikely the government could do anything to intervene. It is up to us, animal lovers in the court of public opinion, to put pressure on Lagoon ourselves.
Animal cruelty needs to go the way of other outdated and inhumane practices. Lagoon needs to leave this ride in the past and get with the times.
I may sell pet food, but I also have a Master's Degree in History. Anyone want to talk British Navy stuff? No? You just want the pet food stuff? Ok...