Maui News

East Maui Animal Refuge Named in PETA Lawsuit Against USDA

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A pueo (owl) with two broken legs. Photo courtesy PETA.

A pueo (owl) at the East Maui Animal Refuge with two broken legs, according to PETA. Photo courtesy PETA.

By Wendy Osher

The animal rights organization, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, also known as PETA, has filed a lawsuit in US District Court against the USDA, that includes implication of the East Maui Animal Refuge in Haʻikū, an announcement said.

The suit claims the USDA allegedly failed to protect birds covered by the federal Animal Welfare Act.


In a PETA press release, the organization claims “no action was taken in response to complaints regarding exhibited birds found suffering from injuries and illness, filthy enclosures, and contaminated water, among other violations.”

A pueo (owl) with an broken left wing. Photo courtesy PETA.

A pueo (owl) at the East Maui Animal Refuge with an broken left wing, according to PETA. Photo courtesy PETA.

The East Maui Animal Refuge, also known as The Boo Boo Zoo, is described on its website as a “no-kill, all volunteer run, non-profit organization that offers rehabilitation and sanctuary for injured and orphaned animals.”

According to the organization website, the facility is licensed by both the state and federal department of fish and wildlife to rehabilitate animals, including threatened and endangered species. The website further states that the unique rehabilitation center cares for 300 to 400 animals at any given time.


According to information released by PETA, the organization reportedly investigated East Maui Animal Refuge in 2011.

As a result of the investigation, the organization claims to have made the following findings:

“…found a pueo (Hawaiian owl) with two broken wings, a second pueo with a broken wing, and a blind owl permanently confined to a small travel crate who exhibited symptoms of bumblefoot—an excruciatingly painful and debilitating condition characterized by swelling and blisters—among other incidents.”

PETA further alleges that the USDA took no action in response to PETA’s June 1, 2011, complaint. According to information released today, PETA claims that, “other agencies had to step in for a multi-agency raid in which the US Fish and Wildlife Service confiscated 17 migratory birds.”


Request for comment from the USDA and Maui facility was not immediately available at the time of this posting (however if further information surfaces on behalf of either group, this story will be amended).

The USDA has a 2012 inspection report listed on its website for the East Maui Animal Refuge for June of 2012 for an Exhibitor C License.

The inspection made reference to cleanliness of food containers for cats and goats, as well as general sanitation and housekeeping, but did not specify conditions for birds.

PETA notes that other facilities named in the lawsuit include roadside zoos in Florida, New Jersey, North Carolina and Pennsylvannia.


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