Maggots ate the flesh of wolves at this NC zoo, feds say. Here’s what else they found

·3 min read

Maggots ate into the flesh of three wolves, and exotic squirrels showed signs of “self-trauma” at a North Carolina zoo, a federal inspector said in a report released this week.

None of the wolves at Zootastic Park of Lake Norman were under a veterinarian’s care, and no medical treatment had been prescribed for their “open wounds,” the veterinary medical officer with the U.S. Department of Agriculture wrote in her Aug. 13 inspection report.

“These wounds appear consistent with chronic fly strike,” the officer wrote.

Flystrike can be fatal if left untreated, according to Royal Veterinary College at the University of London.

The condition appears when eggs laid by flies on an animal hatch and become maggots, according to the college.

A Zootastic employee told the inspector that staff apply a maggot treatment spray each day and a weekly ointment to the two tamer wolves, according to a copy of the report obtained by The Charlotte Observer on Friday.

“One wolf cannot be handled without sedation so receives more limited care,” the inspector wrote.

The zoo on Ostwalt Amity Road in Troutman, has many types of wildlife, including lions, tigers, giraffe, antelope, cheetah, bison, deer, zebra, monkeys and birds, according to its website.

USDA: Rats and squirrel ‘self-trauma’ seen

The inspector also saw multiple rats “actively feeding from the fresh produce bowl in the cavy/chicken enclosure in the upper barn,” according to the USDA report.

“The licensee indicated that they do have a pest control program in place, and traps were visible,” the medical officer wrote. “However, the current program is inadequate for controlling the rat population. Per the regulations, a safe and effective program for the control of insects, ectoparasites, and avian and mammalian pests shall be established and maintained.”

An exotic tri-colored Prevost’s squirrel, native of Southeast Asia, had a superficial wound that Zootastic failed to report to its attending veterinarian, the inspector noted in her report.

The squirrel recently had its tail amputated at a veterinary hospital “due to apparent ongoing self-trauma,” the inspector wrote. Another Prevost’s squirrel previously had its tail amputated for the same reason, she wrote.

The department didn’t fine the park, instead saying it would follow up to see if the zoo followed its orders.

Those orders include veterinarian care for all of its animals and immediately notifying the vet when staff spot a health issue, according to the report.

Zootastic owner Scottie Brown didn’t reply to a request for comment by the Observer on Friday.

Past violations

The USDA has inspected Zootastic 27 times since 2014, agency records reviewed by the Observer show.

Inspectors cited the zoo for various animal-welfare violations on 14 of the visits, according to the documents.

In 2016, the USDA fined the zoo $7,450 for nine violations, including a poorly built enclosure that let a kinkajou escape. A lion cub at the zoo killed the tropical rain forest mammal, according to the inspection records.

The zoo has received 39 citations since 2014, the USDA documents show

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA, posted a news release on its website on Wednesday about the latest USDA inspection report at Zootastic. PETA is a nonprofit animal rights organization.

“Animals at this seedy outfit haven’t received adequate care, resulting in the amputation of two squirrels’ tails as well as three wolves’ ears being eaten by flies,” PETA Foundation official Debbie Metzler said in the release. “PETA is calling on Zootastic to send all the animals to reputable facilities before it receives its next citation.”

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