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East Feliciana animal preserve claims feds 'wrongfully confiscated' their sick giraffe

2 months 3 weeks 23 hours ago Wednesday, September 13 2023 Sep 13, 2023 September 13, 2023 1:31 PM September 13, 2023 in News
Source: WBRZ

ETHEL - A small-scale nature preserve that markets up-close encounters with exotic animals says federal regulators overreached this week when they took away its ailing giraffe.

A statement issued by Barn Hill Preserve in Ethel alleges the U.S. Department of Agriculture had "no warrant, no ruling, no judgment, and no oversight" when it removed the Brazos the giraffe. 

Barn Hill says it was alerted by the USDA three weeks ago that Brazos was in poor health. The preserve said in a statement that it believes its vet, who's looked after the giraffe for two years, committed "medical malpractice" and she did not appear to have the necessary skills to treat the animal in the first place. 

"We openly communicated with USDA that we had done everything our vet had advised us to do and were unaware of the severity of his condition. The USDA advised us to not fire our vet and instead continue treating the animal under her care. We complied with the USDA and continued working with our veterinarian though she continued to not be concerned with the animal," Barn Hill wrote in its statement

That veterinarian has since been fired, according to Barn Hill. 

On Monday, the business says the USDA alerted them it planned to confiscate Brazos within a matter of hours. In that time, the zoo hired a giraffe specialist, who advised against relocating the animal. 

"Despite the fact that our giraffe veterinarian specialist recommended that Brazos not be moved in his current condition, USDA decided Brazos had to be removed from the facility. He was sent to a different USDA-licensed, privately-owned zoological facility. The USDA came onto our private property without a warrant and overstepped their bounds as a government agency when taking Brazos."

Barn Hill claims its has tried to appeal the USDA's decision but that agents showed up within its appeal window. You can read the full statement from Barn Hill here.

However, USDA records shows documented problems at the nature preserve since 2018. While a majority of the citations involve inadequate maintenance and planning of its enclosures, a 2021 complaint indicates the veterinary staff failed to properly diagnose or address health concerns among some of its animals.

Barn Hill operates two locations: one in Louisiana and another in Delaware.

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