FARMINGTON -- A local group of animal rights activists is calling for a boycott of Lagoon until the amusement park stops what the group calls the "imprisonment of animals."
The group, which organized under the banner name of Lagoonsucks.com, alleges Lagoon has failed to meet minimal federal standards for the care of animals that make up the amusement park's Wild Kingdom.
The allegations include providing poor veterinary care, filthy enclosures, inadequately trained employees and too little space, according to Jordan Kasteler. He said the company failed to meet minimal federal standards for the care of animals used in exhibition as established in the Animal Welfare Act. He also claims the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has cited the park numerous times for animal violations.
Lagoon spokesman Dick Andrew categorically denies any abuse is taking place at the amusement park. He said Lagoon has four veterinarians who regularly monitor the animals, has staff that deal with the animals every day of the year and in essence provides a sanctuary of sorts for rescued animals.
Andrew said the last time the park was cited by the USDA for any violation was in 2006 and prior to that it was 2004. He suggests the government would shut down any facility guilty of the kind of abuse the group implies is going on.
Andrew said most of the creatures at the amusement park are what he terms rescued animals who have come to the park, after someone failed to provide adequately for them elsewhere. He said all of the animals in the park were born in captivity, save one, a golden eagle that was hit by a semitrailer and had one wing removed.
"There is simply no basis for the statement we are abusing animals," Andrew said.
He said the group will keep up the protests until Lagoon removes the animals to a sanctuary. He wonders what sanctuary will provide better detailed care than the park for its animals.
Kasteler and several other organizers have initiated a petition campaign to try to bring pressure on the park to address the animal issue. They also have chosen to picket during the first few weekends the park has been open this season.
"Lagoon calls their 'Wild Kingdom' train ride an attraction. Unfortunately for the animals confined at Lagoon, there is nothing attractive or wild about it," Kasteler said.
The group has also initiated a petition drive. They had a booth at the Davis County Democratic convention Saturday at Farmington Junior High School, where they claim to have gathered more than 70 signatures. They have also taken the petition drive online.
The Wild Kingdom ride at Lagoon features a steam railroad ride pulled by two authentic 19th century locomotives that takes guests on a scenic tour of the amusement park and gives guests the opportunity to view Siberian tigers, Canadian lynx, miniature donkeys, zebras, llamas, elk, camels, deer, ostriches and kangaroos, among other animals.