FREDERICK COUNTY, Va. (WDVM) — Wilson’s Wild Animal Park in Winchester is closed after 127 animals were seized. Frederick County General District Court records say these animals were believed to have been subject to cruel treatment or neglect.
“They are confined in very small, very inadequate cages and enclosures. That on numerous occasions there have been reports filed that animals have not had access to drinking water,” said John Netzel of Peaceful Fields Animal Sanctuary.
When Netzel reached out to help find new homes for the animals, the owner of the park, Keith Wilson, gave an unexpected response.
“I was told over the phone by Wilson’s that they would much rather send the animals slaughter and be killed than to find them other homes, for example at a sanctuary,” said Netzel.
Since the park was shut down, their website is no longer available and their phone goes straight to voicemail. No animals appear to be on park property.
The Wilson’s Wild Animal Park voicemail currently says: “Thank you for calling Wilson’s Wild Animal Park. We will be closed until further notice as of august 16th we will try to make an update in the next few days via phone, Facebook or web page.”
The park has faced criticism in the past from animal rights organizations like PETA. PETA responded to the seizure with: “We hope to see all the animals confined at this hideously shoddy roadside zoo enjoying far better lives away from Wilson’s.”
“Wilson’s is right here in the same area where we are. So we even feel more obligated then we already do to get involved and help the animals out,” said Netzel.
The owner of the park, Keith Wilson, is due in court on August 29.