Deadline passes for Lazy 5 Ranch to fix USDA violations - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

Deadline passes for Lazy 5 Ranch to fix USDA violations

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MOORESVILLE, NC (WBTV) -

The deadline for a Mooresville-based petting zoo to correct violations spotted by federal inspectors passed Wednesday.

Officials from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) did a routine inspection at the Lazy 5 Ranch earlier in April. Read the report here.

According to a report filed, the inspector found violations including improper record keeping and handling of animals. Animal-rights activists from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) say the inspection report shows animals are suffering.

Lazy 5 Ranch told WBTV on Wednesday that the inspector has not come back, but everything has been corrected if she does.
A trip through the Lazy 5 Ranch in Mooresville is an adventure.

"We feed the big animals," said Darian Hernandez, a student at Oaklawn Language Academy.

Kids and chaperones from the Oaklawn Language Academy had their field trip to meet many animals up close. 

"It was really good the ride. I didn't feel the animals or the kids were in harm.  So everything was good," said Jacqueline Hernandez, a chaperone on the field trip.

But a veterinary medical inspector with the USDA on April 1st during a routine inspection said everything was not good. April 30th was the inspector's deadline to address the hooves of a giraffe.

"They were trimmed on April the 19, there's pictures on our Facebook page we always like to post what we're doing keep them up to date," said Sarah Beth Rogers, who works at Lazy 5 Ranch.

Ginger, the giraffe was transported to Ohio, which the USDA report anticipated. WBTV observed the five other giraffes and noticed all of their hooves appear to be just fine.

"We have nothing to hide," said Rogers, "We like to show the real world we try to post what we can."

We reviewed the park's records too because the inspector found problems with the ranch's accounting for certain animals.

"Everything that she asked about as far as the animals were concern were written down in five minutes," said Rogers.

The park said it addressed everything, including the environment for lemurs.  But the largest concern was safety. The inspector witnessed a visitor putting a child on a car to feed a giraffe and no one from the staff to stop it.

The USDA wants a park attendant to be present during any interaction between an animal or person. The animal park does not know if that expectation can be reached.

"There has never been an injury between a person and an animal here since we've been open because of lack of barrier," said Rogers.

Lazy 5 Ranch says it's ready for the inspector to come back, but doesn't know when that could happen. 

"We're very thankful to the people that do support us and those that don't and do have questions we encourage them to come out and see for themselves. Ask us questions," said Rogers.

The USDA says its investigation of the Lazy 5 Ranch could lead to warning letters, fines, license suspension or possible revocation.

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