Eyes on Apes | Roadside Zoos


Roadside Zoos and Pseudo-Sanctuaries

  • Chimpanzees and orangutans living in roadside zoos, pseudo-sanctuaries, and circuses are often forced to "perform" and display unnatural behaviors.
  • Paying guests can be fooled into believing that the animals live an ideal life and that they are contributing to a good cause. Any roadside zoo can call their zoo a sanctuary, and many of these pseudo-sanctuaries advertise that they donate a portion of their profits to conservation efforts.
  • Most roadside zoos breed animals and advertise the babies as attractions. Facilities that breed their animals are perpetuating the cycle of captivity. For true sanctuaries, resources are dedicated to ensuring quality lifetime care for their residents. A reputable sanctuary would not intentionally breed--producing babies whose fate is a lifetime of confinement goes against the mission of a rescue organization.
  • A common attraction for roadside zoos is allowing public visitors to hold or touch exotic animals and taking keepsake photos of these encounters. Being in close contact with exotic animals like big cats or apes is extremely dangerous. Reputable sanctuaries do not enter enclosures with their residents and for the sake of their safety, and would not allow visitors to touch the animals.
  • Some of the most atrocious roadside zoos and pseudo-sanctuaries confine chimpanzees who were cast off from the entertainment industry. Some chimpanzees are languishing in complete isolation, including Joe at the Mobile Zoo and Candy at the Dixie Landin' Amusement Park. Several others are scattered around the country in similar shoddy attractions. Tragically, some chimpanzees languished in roadside zoos their entire lives--including Archie, Rosie, Sammy, and Charlie who died in a 2014 fire at Hollywild Animal Park, and Chico, who died at Waccatee Zoo in 2015.
  • Pseudo-sanctuaries with apes include Big Cat Habitat and Gulf Coast Sanctuary, The Institute of Greatly Endangered and Rare Species (TIGERS), and Suncoast Primate Sanctuary.
  • A fortunate few have been rescued from these decrepit facilities, including JR from Buffalo Beals, Terry from the Las Vegas Zoo, Iris from Chestatee Wildlife Preserve, and Lisa Marie from Monkeys & More Exotic Animal Rescue--all of whom have found freedom at Save the Chimps sanctuary.
  • Speak up for these exploited animals, and spread the word. If a friend sends you a "cute" picture of a baby chimpanzee holding a tiger cub, take a moment to educate them about the truth behind pseudo-sanctuaries that promote those types of photos. Avoid visit roadside zoos and do your research before donating to any sanctuary. Remember that captive apes are kept in roadside zoos all over the world, not just the U.S. Only support rescue organizations that are committed to providing quality lifetime care. For a list of organizations accredited by the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries, visit here.