Mooresville zoo cited for animal welfare violations

An exotic animal park and petting zoo in Mooresville is under fire after being ticketed for multiple violations, but staff are calling it a breakdown in communication.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture filed a complaint against Henry Hampton, the owner of Lazy 5 Ranch. They cite the park violated the Animal Welfare Act.

In the report, the ranch had more than a dozen violations listed between 2015 and 2017, which included failure to provide veterinary care to animals with obvious injuries or abnormalities. Having an inadequate barrier was listed as a repeat violation.

"Our question to them is what is adequate? That was the hardest question for them to answer but we have come up with a solution that we just talked about this morning." 

Park staff say they are working closely with the USDA to clarify what their expectations are as far as documentation and record keeping.

"What has changed is the way we document so when the USDA inspector comes if there's an animal limping or the giraffe with the hoof, or some of things off the top of my head, if it's not documented by our veterinarian although he obviously has then it's written up as inadequate veterinary care."

The popular park attracts visitors from all over the region, many of whom said they can't imagine the zoo not being there.

"I like this place better than zoo's because at this place the animals get to roam freely."

A new report released Wednesday by the USDA showed Lazy 5 Ranch had no violations.