Meet the worst roadside zoo in America
Animals Driven Insane by a Real House of Horrors: Waccatee Zoo
Help Lil Trix the baboon and others suffering in Waccatee Zoo’s roadside hell.
Update: December 23, 2021
On December 22, PETA and two concerned members of the public who had visited Waccatee Zoo, which PETA calls the “Worst Roadside Zoo in America,” sent an official notice to the facility, warning of their intent to sue under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA). The notice alleges that Waccatee mistreats lions, ring-tailed lemurs, and other ESA-protected animals and that the mistreatment of Lila the tiger and other ESA-protected animals led to their deaths. It offers the roadside zoo an opportunity to avoid the suit if it allows PETA to arrange the placement of animals at reputable facilities.
The worst roadside zoo in the U.S. is a real-life house of horrors for animals who are trapped within its small, unkempt enclosures. At Waccatee Zoo in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, animals are neglected and left to suffer in desolate conditions: filthy and small cages, inadequate veterinary care, and little to no stimulation. Inside the roadside zoo’s compound, isolated, frustrated, and lonely animals exhibit alarming and repetitive behavior, indicating that they’re being driven insane from psychological distress—all for the sake of human amusement.
Distressed, Isolated Animals Harm Themselves
Much like the archaic “insane asylums” that were deemed inhumane, Waccatee confines many animals to extremely small spaces with little to do and virtually no opportunities to socialize. These conditions have taken a serious toll on their mental well-being.
Day after day, a baboon named Lil Trix repeatedly sways back and forth, and another named Handsome often rolls his head back and forth and circles in place.
A capuchin named Jake has been seen shaking and drooling, and several primates reportedly bite and harm themselves. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), one macaque appeared to have floating limb syndrome, a condition that causes animals to attack their own limbs when they’re elevated.
Exasperated-looking animals—including lions, two black bears, a cougar, a serval, a bobcat, and a coati—are often seen pacing back and forth.
A Bald, Underweight Tiger Died—Will Balding Bears and Weak Lions Get Help Before It’s Too Late?
Throughout 2020, Lila the tiger lost all her fur except for a small patch on her face. By December, her condition had become dire. She was bald, had lost a significant amount of weight, and had poor muscle condition consistent with muscle wasting. Now in 2021, after suffering for so long, Lila is gone. Following a letter from PETA seeking answers regarding her whereabouts, Waccatee finally admitted that she died “months ago.” In 2015, Chico the chimpanzee died all alone, even though PETA had asked for years that the roadside zoo release him to an accredited facility. It’s too late for Lila and Chico, but there’s still time for Waccatee to do the right thing for the remaining animals.
Like Lila, two black bears named Care Bear and Spook have also experienced severe hair loss in large patches all over their bodies.
A lion named Simba has shown significant weakness and lack of coordination in his rear legs, which may be the result of malnutrition or another type of illness. He’s been showing the same symptoms for years with little to no improvement.
In response to PETA’s reports over the years, the USDA has cited the roadside zoo on many occasions for neglecting to provide animals with proper hoof care. Many of them—including zebus, goats, aoudads, and llamas—are frequently seen with overgrown hooves. According to one upset visitor on Yelp, a llama’s nails had grown so long that they appeared to be causing pain and discomfort with every step.
Waccatee has repeatedly failed to meet the USDA’s minimum standards for veterinary care. In 2018, an inspector observed a crab-eating macaque whose tail was completely raw and irritated from possible frostbite, which hadn’t been treated by a veterinarian. And in 2016, the animal prison failed to separate Lila from a male tiger, whose “excessive male roughness” caused her to sustain a 2-inch-deep gash.
Enclosures Filled With Feces and Built-Up Black Grime
Both the USDA and alarmed tourists have observed that Waccatee’s enclosures are unsanitary, muddy, moldy, smelly, and decrepit. Failing to clean them has led to the buildup of black grime, piles of feces, food waste, and an accumulation of fur. Brown slime even accumulated in a raccoon’s water bottle. Several enclosures were also seen with clusters of mice feces and rodent holes.
During the summer, when temperatures reached the high 80s, Care Bear and Spook weren’t able to soak themselves to cool off, as their pool is frequently so dirty that it appears to be a health hazard.
In the winter, when temperatures can plummet to below 20 degrees, animals have been found with no bedding and no sufficient weather-resistant structures to protect them from the elements. In addition to being deprived of everything that’s natural and important to them, these sentient beings were unable even to stay warm.