Two cases stemming from 2017 when the United States Department of Agriculture removed Animal Welfare Act enforcement records from its website—an incident referred to as the USDA Blackout—have been settled. The settlement includes the agency’s commitment that it has restored and will continue to provide public access to the records at issue.
USDA Settles 2017 Blackout Lawsuits
Project Chimps Files Suit Against Former Caretakers
Sanctuary Project Chimps has filed suit against two former employees, alleging they have spread false information about the sanctuary, violated non-disclosure agreements, defamed the organization, and driven away potential donors. Project Chimps seeks statutory relief, injunctive relief, return of property, accounting of proceeds defendants have gained through the use of proprietary information, review of defendants’ electronic devices and accounts, compensatory damages, punitive damages, attorneys’ fees, and costs.
USDA Ordered to Promulgate AWA Regulations for Birds not Bred for Research
Big Cat Rescue Wins Control of Tiger King Property
A federal judge has ordered Joe Exotic to give up the property occupied by the roadside zoo featured in Tiger King and to hand it over to Big Cat Rescue. This results from a lawsuit in which Big Cat Rescue claimed that Joe Exotic fraudulently transferred assets in order to shield them from Big Cat Rescue’s claims.
Groups to Appeal Dismissal of NMFS Necropsy Decision
Islamabad High Court Holds That Nonhuman Animals Have Legal Rights
The Islamabad High Court in Pakistan has ruled that an elephant held in solitary captivity must be released to a sanctuary and affirmed that animals have “legal rights.”
PETA Files Suit Against Tri-State Zoological Park
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has filed suit against Tri-State Zoological Park, alleging that the roadside zoo’s neglect of animals violates federal and state law and constitutes a public nuisance.
APHIS Issues Final AWA Licensing Provisions
The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has issued a final rule detailing changes to the Animal Welfare Act licensing requirements, including automatic termination of a license after three years and requiring that dogs have constant access to potable water. The rule will take effect on November 9, 2020.
FWS Considers Endangered Species Import and Breeding Permits
The Fish and Wildlife Service has announced it is considering several applications for Endangered Species Act permits. The applications include requests to import a snow leopard to John Ball Zoo in Michigan and to captive breed Arabian oryx and Eld’s deer at a game ranch in Texas. The agency is accepting comments on the applications until May 13, 2020.
Virginia Outlaws Direct Contact with Dangerous Captive Animals
Virginia Governor Ralph Northam has signed into law Senate Bill 1030, which will ban exhibits that allow direct contact between members of the public and dangerous captive animals (defined as any bear, cougar, jaguar, leopard, lion, nonhuman primate, tiger, or any hybrid of such animals). The law will take effect July 1, 2021.