FARMINGTON — A group of people held signs of protest outside Lagoon’s parking entrance Saturday morning in an attempt to speak out against alleged animal abuse within the park.

According to the protest’s local organizer, Lexie Levitt, the amusement park’s Wild Kingdom Train Ride and zoo in particular house animals in tiny concrete and wire cages and those animals should be released to the natural environment.

“We want them all to be released to a sanctuary. We don’t feel that an amusement park is an appropriate place for any animal to be housed,” Levitt said.

Levitt, a member of the Direct Action Everywhere organization, volunteered to organize the protest that began at 9:30 a.m. Saturday. About 20 people came and held signs of protest on the west side of Lagoon Drive, with the amusement park’s entrance to their front and the rushing air of the freeway to their back.

Levitt doesn’t believe that it would be harmful to Lagoon in any way to release the animals. In fact, she said she believes it would be beneficial for Lagoon’s public image.

“We don’t see any reason for them to be there,” Levitt said. “People go for the rides and not for the zoo and to see animals housed in horrible conditions.”

Phone calls made to Lagoon for comment went unanswered as of Saturday afternoon, but Lagoon’s spokesman Adam Leishmann told the Standard Examiner in June that the park’s animals are well taken care of, and that the park has not had any violation of meeting minimum federal standards for animal care in seven years.

Tera Novack, 38, used to go to Lagoon all the time ever since she was a kid, but said that she changed her opinion of the amusement park after her husband Wes, 34, told her about the animals being held in Lagoon’s Wild Kingdom park.

BN 071815 Lagoon Zoo Protest 12-11

Tera and Wes Novack with their twin boys Dylan and Ashton gather with other protestors to rally in support of the animals on the Lagoon train ride outside the gate, as thrill seekers pour into Lagoon Amusement Park in Farmington Saturday, July 18, 2015. (BRIAN NICHOLSON/Special to the Standard-Examiner)

“If they got rid of the zoo I wouldn’t mind coming back and bringing my family,” Tera Novack said. The couple held signs in protest on Lagoon Drive’s west side, with their 3-year-old twin boys Ashton and Dylan sitting in a red wagon full of more signs.

The Novacks said that although they haven’t seen the housing conditions of the animals at the park, they would prefer that Lagoon releases the animals rather than only improve their living conditions.

Contact reporter Taylor Hintz at 801-625-4221 or Follow on Twitter @TaylorHintz.

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