Wilson's Wild Animal | Tiger

A white tiger at Wilson’s Wild Animal Park is seen in fall 2016. The Frederick County business has closed following a search that resulted in more than 100 animals being seized.

Wilson’s Wild Animal Park, a family attraction in Winchester for more than 40 years, has closed after police seized more than 100 animals from the zoo.

According to a Friday statement from Attorney General Mark Herring's office, a court-approved search warrant was executed at Wilson’s Wild Animal Park on Thursday and Friday to explore allegations of potential animal cruelty.

The exotic and agricultural animals seized from the zoo included lions, tigers, bears, camels, birds, water buffalo and goats. The roster of seized animals, which numbered about 120, listed a deceased lemur and a deceased cat.

The animals are being cared for by animal control agencies and exotic and agricultural animal rescue partners.

The search warrant was executed by law enforcement officials from the Virginia State Police with assistance by the attorney general's Animal Law Unit, the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office and animal welfare experts.

On Friday, Wilson’s Wild Animal Park’s Facebook page disappeared, and its website stated that the park was closed until further notice.

The park is owned by Keith Wilson, who did not return The Winchester Star’s call for comment. A seizure hearing is scheduled for Aug. 29 in Frederick County General District Court.

Wilson’s Wild Animal Park opened July 4, 1976, at 985 W. Parkins Mill Road. In a 2016 interview with The Star, Wilson said the park draws 100 to 200 people a day during the week and up to 500 people during the weekend.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA, frequently criticized Wilson’s, claiming the zoo failed to provide lions and bears sufficient space. PETA also believes a July 2017 report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture alleging that a local facility prevented animals from engaging in “species typical behavior” was referring to Wilson’s Wild Animal Park. The report said the number of employees at the park was insufficient and it had only one employee to take care of approximately 175 animals.

Herring's office said Friday it will provide additional updates as “appropriate.”

(3) comments

rational

Good. There are too many 'family zoos' that are not caring for exotic animals correctly. They cannot speak for themselves.


KimMarie

I'm glad this place is being shut down and I hope the animals live out their days in peace with their own kind at reputable sanctuaries where they are properly cared for. We can all help animals in captivity by reporting cruelty and raising awareness about why you don't spend your money on places that exploit animals.


Cat

What a great victory for these animals. I hope they are transferred to reputable sanctuaries and not just shuffled off to another roadside zoo.


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