Discussion in 'United States' started by snowleopard, 9 Sep 2014.
I just uploaded 94 photos of America's newest zoo, the Wisconsin-based Timbavati Wildlife Park.
What a terrible place !!!
I've been looking through these photos, at this absolute travesty of a zoo. How does a place like this even exist in a first world country? Maybe if it was a really old zoo which hadn't caught up, but a brand new zoo? Just disgusting.
I've also been looking at some reviews elsewhere. The ones on Yelp are overwhelmingly one and two stars with descriptives such as sad, depressing, disgusting, abusive, etc - and interestingly interspersed with four and five star reviews of glowing brilliance at this beacon of light in the zoo world. That's always a suspicious conjunction
However Tripadvisor, while containing many low-starred reviews rates it much higher (98 excellent and 58 very good, versus 53 terrible and 25 poor).
I have been trying to get a handle on the history of this place. It used to be at Storybook Gardens at Lake Delton, and then in 2012 moved to its current site on a near-abandoned waterpark called Riverview Park in Wisconsin Dells. The owner has a private "farm" called R-Zoo, also in Wisconsin, which apparently operates as an animal factory for all sorts of dodgy affairs including illegal trading and canned hunts.
There's some disturbing stuff here about the clown who runs this place: Mark Schoebel Timbavati Wildlife Park fka R-Zoo | 911 Animal Abuse
I am not seeing any photos in their gallery.
I happened to speak with Mark Schoebel when I was at his brand-new zoo in August and here is what I wrote as part of my summer road trip blog here on ZooChat:
While I’m taking photos of the giraffe barn a truck pulls up with two men inside and the driver sarcastically asks if I like barn photos. I nod and tell him about how I document everything in zoos and he reveals that he is the owner and operator of Timbavati Wildlife Park. We end up having a long chat and the first half I would classify as “tense” as he initially seemed to think that I was some kind of animal rights activist taking photos of barns and signs all over the place. He asks me what I think of the park and it is a loaded question and so I respond with honesty and we have a mild debate that showcases our points with clarity. Behind me visitors are leaning into a cage to pet a baby giraffe and he yells out the window to encourage them because the “giraffe needs to adjust to this park”. Then I bash the tiger and lion exhibits as they each have a tiny pool of water, 3 boulders and the rest is almost entirely sand. He tells me that the sand cost a small fortune and it was trucked in from far away especially for big cats. That is all well and good but having desert tigers in a zoo seems odd as there is literally not a tree stump or a branch or anything green in the barren enclosure. (Just check out Trip Advisor to read visitor reviews ripping this place). The owner tells me that the big cat ponds are slightly bigger than the size of a cat and they are 18 inches deep (“plenty for a tiger”) and I honestly think that he feels that is acceptable. I mentioned the clouded leopard cement cage and he shrugs and says that he’ll build them a new one in the future.
We discuss the baby tiger and animal petting and he points out that he needs to make money and the park is situated on a glitzy street of attractions. That is all true as the zoo is within a mini Las Vegas in south-central Wisconsin but that hardly encourages bad husbandry. He told me that all of the puny cages in the nurseries (3 mara in a 6-foot metal cage; two alligators on a straw and cement floor with a 3-foot tub that can barely accommodate one gator; African crowned cranes in an 8-foot metal cage) are all temporary and he said that it bothers him that he has received so many bad reviews online. I could go on but eventually I steered the conversation to a more positive area as we talked about his off-site breeding farm with herds of hoofstock and how he has lots of mountain coatis as well. This place sucks and it is using animals for pure profit and the key factor is that everything has been built with amazing speed (timeline photos are posted) and it is slapdash and utilitarian. The enormous Feline House, with beautifully intricate rockwork around the edges, was built for $250,000 (according to the owner) and he admitted that all the work was done in-house and that he had to “get those big cats in the cages before summer arrived”.
in which gallery? Zoochat one here: Timbavati Wildlife Park Gallery
I wonder if this zoo has a master plan or something like most AZA facilities have. I wonder if the problem was simply planning without a budget in mind and then only having enough money to build the crappy exhibits there today. Maybe that's too wishful of thinking.
If that is true it doesn't excuse the fact that many enclosures have no hides or branches. Cardboard boxes can be used a temp hides and branches can be collected for free from fallen trees.
I recently filled an entire crow aviary with branches from a tree that came down in a storm, didn't cost me a penny.
I have no intention of justifying this zoo's conditions, merely speculating as to whether the owner had good intentions and failed spectacularly or simply does not care for the animals or their welfare in the first place.
I have no knowledge of zoos etc in the USA, but I found this petition and was a bit shocked by the claims within it
Is this commonplace in the USA?
No. There's a lot of places that do it, but I wouldnt call it commonplace.
Also AZA zoos dont do this. Places that do are just roadside attractions that only care about money.
Thanks for the reply.
I think this is true. When I went here, a lot of the cages were larger then the ones shown in the gallery. Many of them had branches and hides. I think the owner just din't realize that things like cardboard boxes could be used as hides. There were logs in the lion and tiger exhibits.
This is probably the first real news on this thread: The area that was going to become the future African Wild Sheep exhibit is now a go cart ride.
Hopefully the sheep will enjoy driving the go-carts more than the crappy exhibit that was planned for them.
The bad news for visitors is that sheep are terrible drivers.
More actually real news:
Timbavati Wildlife Park is now open year-round.
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