Animal rights group offers reward for proof of abuse at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom

Posted Friday, October 26, 2007 10:40 AM | Contributed by Jeff

A San Rafael animal rights group is offering $2,500 rewards to people who uncover animal cruelty at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom in Vallejo, officials announced Thursday.

The group In Defense Of Animals (IDA) also established a hot Line as part of what group officials called a “whistleblower campaign” to uncover, “expose and document” abuse at the theme park.

Read more from KNTV/Bay Area.

Friday, October 26, 2007 11:53 AM
Jason Hammond's avatar To be honest, when I first saw the headline, I was thinking that this was a pretty sleazy thing to do to try and nail a company. I thought, typical Animal Extreemist Group BS. But, after reading the article, I was a little suprised to hear some of the problems they've had over the years. Plus they, suposedly, already have people who've expressed concerns in the past. I'm not one who's against Zoo's and such, but it sonds like there could be some shady stuff going on here.
Friday, October 26, 2007 3:50 PM
This is what Six Flags Discovery Kingdom had to say in response:
"There is nothing less than total commitment and dedication on the part of the animal staff to ensure the best possible care and welfare of the animals at the park. The actions and claims by this group are completely false and insulting to a staff of individuals who have the utmost appreciation and respect for animals. This is another desperate attempt by this group to draw attention to itself."

Thought it was interesting that KNTV didn't bother to contact the park to get their side of the story.

Friday, October 26, 2007 5:07 PM
Jeff's avatar Yeah, that was some shoddy journalism.
Friday, October 26, 2007 5:44 PM
Jason Hammond's avatar Yeah, that article would have you belive almost the complete opposite of what SFDK said.
Friday, October 26, 2007 6:07 PM
I would like to say that the parks seems very transparent when it comes to the handling of animals. Sure there are back areas you cannot see, but so much is visible I would imagine it would be quite a challenge to abuse animals and never get caught doing it. It has also been my experience from talking to many of the trains, including head trainers, that they absolutely love these animals as if they were their own children. People don't go into a job like that if they don't have a love for animals. Some of the elephant trainers have been with the same animal since 1986- they would never think of treating them poorly.

Of course, if abuse was going on it should be exposed and taken care of immediately by the park (something I'm sure they would do). It's really sad what happened to the giraffe that died in the fire, but what this group is trying to expose is unrelated.

Friday, October 26, 2007 9:39 PM
kpjb's avatar I liked it better when it was Larry Flynt exposing politicians.

I agree with the statement above. Why would someone even go in to this line of work if they're going to abuse the animals? They're not seasonal minimum wage workers, here. They're pro's.

I was at the park a couple of weeks ago and was thoroughly impressed. It's by far the nicest Six Flags park I've ever been to.

Friday, October 26, 2007 10:25 PM
This group is just trying to make a name for itself. The Park is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. You can see there standards here: It is also inspected by the State of California and USDA.

Fire is always a big concern when working with animals, especially hoofstock because the amount of hay that is stored in the location for feedings. Also, the numbers animal deaths they quote can be rather misleading, because they don't list the cause of death, just the number, and that is over a 10 year period.

Saturday, October 27, 2007 12:24 AM
This is a quote from one of the previous articles about the fire:

“Wild animals like giraffes, elephants and tigers simply do not belong in the noisy, stressful and unnatural environment of an amusement park.”

Like having your ass chased back and forth across the Kalihari by a pride of lions is stress free?

If anyone does call in, I hope they have some concrete evidence of abuse, and the "evidence" isn't just hearsay by some possibly disgruntled former employees.

Saturday, October 27, 2007 1:22 PM
^ Good call. Which is worse? Taking an animal and putting it in captivity where it gets food, medical attention and safety for decades, or leaving it in the wild where it might live a few years before getting eaten by something else or shot by someone who wants to hang its head on their wall? In a perfect world, animals could live safely in their natural habitat, but this isn't a perfect world.

As an animal lover I'm completely against animal abuse but I'm having a hard time buying into anything mentioned in that article. The group seems like it has an ax to grind and is probably finding a few disgruntled employees that are willing to throw the park under the bus. The journalist didn't bother to contact the park and the information on the animal deaths in the past decade says nothing about what actually happened to them. Were they abused, or did they die of old age or something else that couldn't have been prevented? How many animal deaths took place in the decade leading up to Six Flags taking over the park? I'd like to see that statistic.

If there is animal abuse taking place, I wish all the trouble in the world for the park and its lousy employees. But as of now, I'm totally not buying this. Going by what I saw at the park in May (and when there are animals involved, I take a good look), I have every reason to believe the park is doing the right thing.

Saturday, October 27, 2007 7:49 PM
The cages are so small, guys. I went there yesterday. One leopard sat in his apartment sized box with theme park music and announcements being piped in from next door. It gave me a sickening feeling. I don't give a crap about animal this or planet that, but it just didn't feel right.

He's sitting there, panting, and the announcer comes on, "Sheikra, the whale will be performing in her own show..." Yuck.

Saturday, October 27, 2007 9:29 PM
The leopard pen isn't that small... and it's not even the only pen for leopards, but rather the only public one. The display pen is switched out every other day between cheetahs and leopards, and since they have multiple of each the same one isn't out there each and every. The leopards are typically much less active than the cheetahs. This is not to mention that they walk them around the park in the mornings...
*** This post was edited by GoliathKills 10/27/2007 9:35:41 PM ***
Sunday, October 28, 2007 6:39 PM
Jeff's avatar I will agree that habitat size is something that Six Flags does not respect, if their choices at the former Cleveland park are any indication. They crammed in way too many sealions together to the point where they had nowhere to move around.

Habitat size is something zoos have become very sensitive to, and they keep building them bigger. In Cleveland the elephants are getting a new place, much bigger than the existing one, and they did something similar in Columbus. Almost every new-to-me zoo I've been to in the last ten years has opened bigger habitats for animals that can use the room.

Sunday, October 28, 2007 9:55 PM
^^^ I'm guessing you mean Shouka, since Sheikra is a B&M dive coaster at Busch Gardens ;)
Tuesday, October 30, 2007 9:20 AM
^^ I didn't know our elephants were getting a new place. Cool.

Doesn't anyone remember the old iron cages the animals at the zoo use to have?
Those things were small.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007 4:36 AM

Like having your ass chased back and forth across the Kalihari by a pride of lions is stress free?

The stresses of locking an animal in a cage versus those of living in their natural habitat are not the same. I can't believe that anyone would suggest that there is even a remote similarity between the two.

The leopard pen isn't that small... and it's not even the only pen for leopards, but rather the only public one.

In my experience, you'll typically find that the public displays are as good as it gets for the animals, even in the best zoos.

Friday, November 2, 2007 8:19 PM
The park probably also does stuff for the animals that the average parg goer does not know about. Take Sea World San Antonio for instance, after the water park closed...what did they do? They made the wave pool 100 percent chlorine free and put natural fresh water in it, turned the waves on, and then....put the sea lions in?? They do stuff for the animals so that they are not always in their cages and what not. At Sea World, you have their areas in the park, however, there are also animal support areas located behind the park not seen by anyone except employees.



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