The CBS I-Team investigated several zoos in Texas, US, and uncovered public complaints and official citations in several of them by analysing inspection reports. The I-Team requested inspection reports and citations from the  United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) regarding five Texas zoos including Dallas, Fort Worth, Austin, San Antonio, and Houston.

The records show that a chimp and a spider monkey escape from Dallas zoo in 2014, which led the USDA to note two citations: “Handling of Animals” and “Employee” issues involving staff numbers and training. Also, in 2014, the inspection report states a “keeper error allowed a female lion to escape her enclosure”, which led to a citation for “Handling of Animals”. It appears that the USDA has visited this zoo at least 14 times since 2011, and inspectors found non-compliant items on 14% of the visits.

Inspectors found non-compliant items during 23% of their visits to the Austin Zoo during the same period, 25% at San Antonio Zoo, and 50% at Houston Zoo. The majority of the items at Austin, San Antonio, and Houston involved citations referencing “Facility” or “Sanitation Issues.” Fort Worth Zoo is the only of the zoos with only one citation in the ten-year analysis (which was about the size of the lemur exhibit and its ability to protect the animals).

Ed Hansen, from the American Association of Zookeepers, said to CBS News: “In larger zoos, when we are caring for anywhere from 500 to 1,000 animals on any given day, there’s going to be something that’s not up to inspection standards.”  This suggests that many big zoos, despite having the reputation of being better than small roadside zoos, keep far too many more z. than they are logistically able to keep without following short of required standards in the US. 

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Jordi Casamitjana
“Originally from Catalonia, but resident in the UK for several decades, Jordi is a vegan zoologist and author, who has been involved in different aspects of animal protection for many years. In addition to scientific research, he has worked mostly as an undercover investigator, animal welfare consultant, and animal protection campaigner. He has been an ethical vegan since 2002, and in 2020 he secured the legal protection of all ethical vegans in Great Britain from discrimination in a landmark employment tribunal case that was discussed all over the world. He is also the author of the book, ‘Ethical Vegan: a personal and political journey to change the world’.