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USDA orders St. Louis Zoo to pay fine


By Julie Bierach, KWMU

Saint Louis, MO – The St. Louis Zoo will pay a $7,500 fine imposed by the USDA to settle charges that it violated the Animal Welfare Act. The charges stem from the deaths of two polar bears in May of 2005.

According to the USDA, the St. Louis Zoo failed to provide adequate veterinary care to Churchill and Penny. Churchill died during exploratory surgery that revealed pieces of a plastic bag lodged in his digestive track. Penny died of a uterine infection with 2 cubs.

Dr. Eric Miller, Sr. Vice President for Zoological Operations says proper care was given in both cases.

"We're upset that the fine is of any perception that we don't care about the animals here. It's central to what we do. And I'm a veterinarian that's been here for 26 years and if I thought the animals were being ignored I'd be at another zoo," said Miller.

Miller says the zoo decided to settle the charges after their attorneys said it would cost $200,000 dollars to get the case in a civil court.

"And so we signed a consent order that does not agree with the allegations but we made a decision that it wasn't responsible use, it wasn't good stewardship of our tax payer dollars to spend almost $200,000 dollars that could be spent on animal care," said Miller.

Miller says proper care was given to both animals. And he says the zoo strongly disagree with the allegations.


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