I was horrified to find this article in my hometown newspaper, the Hutchinson Leader, Hutchinson, MN:
Corley’s Exotic Animal Rescue is coming to the Hutchinson Mall
Submitted by Kay Johnson on February 23, 2010 - 9:20am.
A special fundraiser will take place Wednesday, Feb. 24 through Sunday, Feb. 28, at the Hutchinson Mall, featuring Corley’s Exotic Animal Rescue, run by Beth Corley of G.W. Exotic Animal Park in Wynnewood, Okla. Corley is in Hutchinson to raise awareness for the need to help unwanted exotic animals within the United States. Donations are the only way they care for the animals.
While at the Hutchinson Mall, the foundation will host an all-day exhibit featuring tigers, lions and other exotic animals. For a small donation the public may have their picture taken with the babies or even get the opportunity to interact with the babies. What makes this exhibit unique is that children may play with the cubs under the supervision of one of Corley’s trainers. Kids have a chance to have contact with a baby tiger. The experience is fun and educational as well.
For more information, call Amy Forcier, Hutchinson Mall office at 320-587-5956.
I immediately wrote to Tammy Thies at the Wildcat Sanctuary to find out if she knew anything about the organization and I instantly got a ton of bad news from her:
We’ve been writing malls all over the country about this place, but they keep hiring him.
PO Box 314
Sandstone, MN 55072
Subject: My letter to GGP - corporate owner of 200 regional malls
Would you please join me in writing to GGP – corporate owner of 200 regional malls throughout the country? They are based in Chicago and they own Southland Mall, the latest venue for G.W. Exotic’s newest traveling magic show billed under the name “Awakening Production.”
If we don’t strike at the root – the corporate owner of all of these malls – we’ll never be able to stop this man’s abuse. By the time the local malls find out about him, he’s moved on and even the resulting bad publicity is yesterday’s news for them. They don’t care since he’s long gone.
Won’t you take a minute today to politely ask them to refrain from allowing these exhibits in any of their malls? The facts are listed below for you in my letter.
You can simply cut and paste all the GGP corporate officers and newspapers from my list below:
GGP Chairman of the Board:
John Bucksbaum Phone: 312-604-2029 (direct line)
191 N. Wacker Dr. Suite 1500 312-621-0590 (main office number) Extension 244
Chicago, IL 60606 Fax: 312-621-0984 (not private)
Subject: What is your stand on corporate responsibility?
This week, G.W. Exotics was able to convince another large corporation – GGP - that their traveling animal show was just an innocent display of wild animals. Your Southland Mall played host to this charade, this time G. W. Exotics billing itself as “Awakening Production.”
First, let me say that I am not a member of PETA. I am just a mother/grandmother who happens to be a senior keeper at an accredited rescue facility caring for big cats - just like those at your mall - who have been abandoned, abused, orphaned, bred nearly to death in order to supply these “displays.” The govt. doesn’t step in to save them, we as ordinary citizens are called upon to do it. These animals are ultimately dumped when they are too large to handle and too expensive to care for. Legislation and regulations are scant and enforcement is rare since this falls very low in priority. Budget cuts have resulted in too few inspectors to begin to make a dent in curtailing abuse like this.
If you take the time to investigate and delve deeper, you will learn that this isn’t an innocent, family fun exhibit GGP is hiring. There is a dangerous, abusive, and well-documented past to this exhibitor, Joe Schreibvogel. In fact, he has become a pariah in the animal protection world. Why? Because he is a major supplier to the illegal trade of exotic animals in this country.
At your Southland Mall, he showed up with 7 baby exotic lions, tigers, and kangaroos. What do you think will happen to these animals once they are too large for his mall “human encounters?” Their shelf life is very short. More and more are bred constantly to fuel his business while those that grow too big are disposed of. Since his shows are only a couple of days, by the time the public, or the malls who have hired him, find out about his notorious past (under many different business names), he has moved on. Quite like the old-time snake oil salesmen.
But these are not the old days. This is a new world of corporate responsibility. Recently, when the Price Chopper chain of stores found out a display like this was taking place at an event they were sponsoring, they yanked their sponsorship. They stepped up and did the right thing. Will GGP do what is right and humane and help stop this abuse, too? Is it really worth having your image tarnished by this man’s sordid reputation? Wherever he goes, controversy and bad press follows (see articles below).
Your corporation has booked this man in the future at many of your malls. Attached and below, are the facts, legal proceedings, and numerous articles written about Joe Schreibvogel to prove his reputation as an animal abuser. GGP has qualified for the “Companies That Care Honor Roll” for 3 years. Will you be a good corporate citizen and “walk the talk?” Please show that you truly care by cancelling any future shows by this exhibitor at any of your malls. How can you not?
Cc: CBS – Chicago
NBC – Chicago
ABC – Chicago
Chicago Sun Times
Exotic Joe is actually Joe Schreibvogel, President of the infamous G. W. Exotic Animal Park in Wynnewood, OK. His USDA license is License 73-C-0139 and his USDA violation file is attached (please take the time to read it since it lists many of his animal cruelty violations). He has been slapped with violations and even fined $25,000 which, in the world of USDA animal violation fines, is a huge amount. At any one time, he has housed more than 170 big cats and 1,400 animals on 16 acres. I am a senior keeper at an accredited big cat rescue sanctuary. We currently provide a home for about 125 rescued wildcats on 42 acres and feel we are maxed out, given the space we have. With 1,570 animals crammed onto 16 acres at G. W. Exotic, you can imagine the poor quality of life and lack of care these animals must endure.
If you check out Joe Schreibvogel’s website at http://www.gwpark.org/ you will see a website filled with people holding, handling, posing with baby exotic animals. This begs the question, “Where do all these animals wind up when they are adults?” Though he’ll claim he doesn’t breed or sell, the evidence below is quite the contrary. In addition, what quality of life do these animals suffer when they are trucked all over the country for these “magic” shows?
What is commonly referred to as “puppy mills” is what Schredibvogel runs, the difference being he churns out dangerous carnivores. He is a major supplier fueling the exotic animal trade. It’s very easy for him to book gigs and travel with these babies since he ties his act to “protecting endangered species” - or whatever the buzzword of the day is. But, make no mistake, this is a modern day snake oil salesman making money off the backs of these innocent animals with more and more being churned through his “park.” All the while, he is exposing the public to a tremendous amount of danger.
Isn’t it time our state and national representatives enact legislation to protect the general public from this type of deceptive practice and eliminate the public safety risk and the animal abuse it encourages? The maulings and killings become more and more prevalent. Haley Hilderbrand, a high school senior was killed when she posed with a tiger for a photo only a couple of years ago and yet the namesake bill sponsored after her death still lingers in Congress…..Julie Hanan, Big Cat Rescue, Tampa, FL
BACKGROUND INFORMATION ON JOE SCHREIBVOGEL, G.W. EXOTIC ANIMAL PARK:
The following quotes are from G.W. Exotic Animal Park:
• “… I do not in any way breed, sell, ship out, lease, or loan out any of my animals …”
—[J1], letter to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, December 6, 2002
• “[A]ll of our cats are fixed or split up so they can’t breed, … we do not buy, sell, or trade any animal….”
—[J1], e-mail message to PETA, August 30, 2003
• “I never sell or donate to anyone.”
—[J1], letter to Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, Renewal of Commercial Wildlife Breeders License, November 21, 2001
Contradictory incidents since 2001:
• GW sold one male and two female lion cubs for $1,500 each to the Amarillo Zoo in Texas. All three were born at GW in September 2005 and were declawed before they were 1 month old. Parents of the cubs were all GW residents who were allowed to breed.
• TV news reported an astounding 18 new tiger cubs and one very pregnant tiger at GW. The pregnant tiger, Sasha, was GW’s first rescued, and never spayed, tiger.
• A female cougar, born at GW on March 14, 2000, was shipped to the Seoul Grand Park Zoo in the Republic of Korea.
• A cougar, born at GW, was shipped to the Sofia Municipal Zoo in Bulgaria.
• Two cougars born at GW were shipped to the Zoological Park Organization of Thailand.
• GW reportedly tried to sell an infant baboon named Savannah, born April 24, 2003, to an undercover activist who visited the facility.
• GW sent a lion cub to Capital of Texas Zoo (Cedar Creek, Texas). The cub was then loaned to Bobbie Colorado, who appears weekly on an Austin TV station. While in the custody of Bobbie Colorado, the lion cub was killed by a dog.
• GW transferred a tiger named Blondy to the Hillcrest Zoo, a roadside zoo in Clovis, New Mexico, that has been repeatedly cited for a multitude of violations of the Animal Welfare Act, including failing to provide sufficient food to three zebras who all died within a two-day period.
• In 2003, GW obtained four snakes, four flying squirrels, two sugar gliders, and 10 alligators from Strictly Reptiles, a Florida wholesale distributor of reptiles.
• GW has purchased animals including a bear cub, a tiger cub, miniature horses, and birds from exotic animal auctions, such as Lolli Bros., which states on its Web site: “From Apes to Zebra—We sell it all!! In addition to ‘live’ animal sales, we also offer a phenomenal selection of excellent of Taxidermy [sic] at each sale.”
EXOTIC ANIMAL DISPLAY: WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE
Despite vociferous criticism from animal rights groups, traveling showman says he offers a once-in-a-life experience. Video shows tigers being hit with the butt of a rifle, a goat with a horn ripped off exposing its brain, USDA lawsuit with 14 infractions
By _TRENT JACOBS_
The Daily Sentinel
Friday, April 24, 2009
Lions, tigers and bears took over the University Mall earlier this week, and tonight residents are promised a free anti-drug and alcohol magic show at 6 p.m. in the middle of the mall concourse, courtesy of none other than Joe "Exotic" Schreibvogel.
Schreibvogel is the ring leader of a traveling zoo and magic show that has performed for audiences young and old across the country for several years. Schreibvogel was to perform several magic shows earlier this week, but his tour bus broke down, leaving him stranded at his animal park in Wynnewood, Okla, After chartering a bus and starting an emergency fund-raising effort to fix the bus, Schreibvogel was scheduled to arrive in Nacogdoches sometime Friday afternoon. He said he will take the stage tonight before heading back out of town Sunday.
Preceding Schreibvogel's arrival was an 18-wheeler trailer carrying baby lions, bears and tigers that have been on exhibit at the mall all week. For a $25 donation, mall patrons can take pictures and visit with the animals for eight minutes. Schreibvogel owns and operates a non-profit animal ranch in Oklahoma called the G.W. Exotic Animal Park. The park was founded in 1997 and named in honor of his brother, Garold, who was killed by a drunk driver in Corsicana, Texas. Schreibvogel says his brother was passionate about wildlife, and he now uses his traveling magic act to build awareness among young people about the dangers of drugs, alcohol and bullying. He will open and close tonight's show with songs he wrote about his father's inability to express love to his dying son and how he was forced to take his brother, who spent a week in a coma due to his injuries, off life support.
Schreibvogel says he is on a constant hunt for donor money to help keep his park, which also houses various volunteers, afloat. He says he takes no salary, and the only people on his payroll are the commercial truck drivers he uses for the traveling baby animal show and to pick up meat for the animals. He also mentions that he used his inheritance from his grandfather to keep the park running and it's 1,400 animals fed, which he says takes about $60,000 a month.
It's because of that large sum of money that Schreibvogel says he is "forced" to breed young lions and tigers and take them out on the road. Despite his claim that he gives the baby lions and tigers to zoos and other accredited preserves, it is an action that animal rights groups like the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals oppose vehemently.
According to Lisa Wathne, who is a captive exotic animal specialist with PETA, said, "Joe Schreibvogel is directly contributing to the exotic-animal trade that he says he is against. But the truth of the matter is, he is putting a lot of animals into that trade. It's despicable."
But Schreibvogel claims that patrons to his wildlife park cannot sustain the costs of operation, and Internet scams have dissuaded people from donation through his Web site. On the site, he talks about a crusade to save "dying malls across America" and describes his traveling act as a once-in-a-lifetime experience for the over 2 million people he meets a year. "We help the malls, and they help us by letting us use the space for free.
I meet 2-year-old people and 95-year-old people that have a life dream of being able to go see a tiger in real life. So, here they have the option to sit in a cage, get educated, fall in love with and get a personal aspect of a baby tiger that otherwise they would have never seen in their life," Schreibvogel says.
But it's that chance encounter that James Bias, spokesperson for the SPCA of Texas, said is a misrepresentation of true wildlife advocacy. "You know you're taking wild animals, regardless of how they've been raised, and they are still wild and not domesticated, and putting them on wheels and trucking them around. That's just not what these animals were geared to do, and, of course, you're increasing their stress levels and the potential for abuse," Bias said. "For somebody to claim that this is an opportunity for the community to see wild animals up close, this usually doesn't represent what their normal environment is. You're not going to see someone who's holding a tiger in a shopping mall realize that these animals deserve dignity. I mean this is the least dignified way for animals to be cared for."
In fact, Schreibvogel, his animal park and his traveling animal show have all been fined and cited for numerous infractions by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which is responsible for enforcing federal animal welfare laws. In January 2006, the USDA filed a lawsuit against Schreibvogel, and he along with his park were put on 18 months of probation for 14 infractions, including poor living conditions for the animals, unsanitary conditions and a general lack of proper care for the animals by untrained staff, the suit said. Schreibvogel was also ordered to pay $5,000 in fines and has since been taken off probation. Schreibvogel says the USDA "targeted" him after he was cited for not having "a readily identifiable employee" within proximity to some rescued baby deer. In a moment of passion, Schreibvogel says he threw the USDA inspector who issued the citation out of the park a move he now says he regrets. Schreibvogel says he is now in compliance with the USDA and provided The Daily Sentinel with copies of 11 inspection reports dated from November 2006 to January 2009 reflecting his claim, with only one infraction concerning proper recording keeping.
Schreibvogel also claims that a YouTube video made during his probation period in 2006 by the PETA group was a "frame job," and the undercover PETA agent used sympathetic friends to incriminate the park. The video depicts park volunteers debating whether or not to properly euthanize a lame horse. They argue that using chemicals on the animal would prevent them from feeding the meat to some of the other animals, and that a gunshot to the head was more appropriate. The video also shows an animal handler hitting tigers with the butt of a rifle and a goat with a horn ripped off exposing its brain. The video says the goat was left injured for days before being shot and fed to the big cats at the park. Another portion of the video has an audio recording of one park volunteer explaining how easy it is doctor the "feed report," because inspectors cannot prove you did not feed the animals on any given day. The park volunteer goes on to acknowledge the park was in violation of the law when the park ran out of meat and did not feed the animals for three or four days. The volunteer also says they are only allowed to fast the animals for a single day, according to U.S Department of Agriculture regulations. "They can't go back, unless they've got video cameras out here, and prove that we didn't feed them that day. There's no way they can go back and prove we didn't feed them," the volunteer says to the undercover PETA agent. Other parts of the video show park staff kicking and swatting animals and shows the erratic behavior of some of the captive tigers and bears, describing them as having gone "cage crazy" from lack of psychological stimulus in their tight confinements.
Schreibvogel says that all but one of the employees in the video had been fired for other infractions and that the USDA had cleared him of any wrongdoing after an investigation into the claims made in the video.
Schreibvogel says that the animals he rescues come from private owners, and due to newly imposed restrictions in cities across the nation on exotic-animal ownership in the past decade, he has taken in dozens of animals like tigers and chimpanzees.
Summing up his long-lived feud with PETA, Schreibvogel says, "They believe the animals are better off being put to sleep rather than being put in a cage. Unfortunately, I don't think that's fair."
In response, Wathne maintains PETA just wants Schreibvogel to change his business plan, saying, "We don't want to euthanize his animals. What we would like to see Joe do is stop breeding animals ... stop bringing them into an already overcrowded world and into a situation where he has to dump the animals after he's done using them, and provide the animals he has with appropriate space, food and shelter. If he were operating as a true sanctuary, we would have no concerns with him. And, in fact, we would support him just as we support numerous other sanctuaries across the country." Vote for this story!
Friday, June 29, 2007 12:36 AM CDT
BY JEAN STARR
MICHIGAN CITY - An exhibition of exotic baby animals and magic acts opened this week at Marquette Mall, despite objections from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
Mystical Magic of the Endangered arrived Wednesday at the mall. Presented by G.W. Exotic Animal Foundation, the show will continue through Sunday.
PETA said it conducted a covert investigation after learning of complaints filed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. The formal complaints against G.W. Exotic Animal Foundation in Wynnewood, Okla., were for violations including failure to provide adequate care and failure to minimize
safety risk to the public while handling the animals.
According to the USDA Consent Decision and Order docket, foundation owner Joe Schreibvogel was fined $25,000 and told to cease and desist from 14 violations of the Animal Welfare Act.
Schreibvogel told Marquette Mall manager Laura Tubbs that he has paid the fine and presented her with recent inspection reports.
"We certainly do background checks on any of the acts," Tubbs said. "Their whole organization is a positive message geared toward the children, including anti-drug and not drinking and driving."
Michigan City Planner John Pugh said the city approves of special exhibits at Marquette Mall.
"We're not involved in it because it is considered a permitted use as part of Marquette Mall's permanent shopping zoning," he said about the animal exhibit. "It's permissible, and they're considered accessory uses such as car shows (and other) special events."
On the Web
G.W. Exotic Animal Foundation: www.gwpark.org.