PETA Seized a Privately Owned Zoo’s Lion — In Part, Because It Loved the Owner Too Much

Bob Candy and his first lion Bu

One of the deceptively named ‘People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals’ biggest targets in recent years has been a Maryland man named Bob Candy.

If you were to simply read PETA’s library of breathless press releases attacking Candy, you would think that this man was running some sort of Hostel-style torture chamber for animals in the middle of the Tri-State Zoological Park in the small town of Cumberland.

Of course, as appears to be the case with every one of PETA’s leading villains, their descriptions and representations of him could not possibly seem to be further from the truth. Candy explained to the Gateway Pundit that the Tri-State Zoological Park does not purchase animals, simply provides a home to those who need it — in other words, it’s a rescue.

They say that animals are a great judge of character. Well, Candy is apparently such a good man that PETA actually argued in a court filing that one reason they needed to “rescue” the park’s lion was because it liked him too much — and that it was unnatural for a wild animal to care about humans.

The Gateway Pundit spoke to Candy about what this animal-killing organization has been doing to him and his zoo, which sits on sixteen acres of what used to be a campground. The conversation was jaw dropping.

PETA’s harassment campaign against Candy began all the way back in 2006, when they started sending letters about him to animal control. At that time, the organization would receive letters back assuring them that everything was fine and up to their standards at the park.

“In 2017, after the Endangered Species Act (ESA) changed, things really changed for having lions and tigers,” Candy explained. The organization began using a new loophole in the legislation that allows for private organizations and citizens to have standing and seize animals through the courts, all over the country, ever since. “We’re a small zoo, I’m a little guy. That makes me an easy target and they can use me to set precedent for larger cases in the future.”

The reason for PETA’s standing for a lawsuit, per the court, is that Candy’s park “frustrated their organizational mission.”

“As a preliminary matter, the Court addresses PETA’s standing to bring this suit. At trial, Defendants argued that PETA had not suffered a sufficiently concrete and particularized injury to confer standing. Based on the record evidence, however, the Court finds that PETA indisputably has standing,” the judge wrote in their ruling. “PETA as an organization may establish what is known as organizational standing on its own behalf. Organizational standing is conferred where the defendants’ misconduct causes injury to the organization by frustrating the organizational mission, thus requiring the organization to divert resources in response.”

The judge asserted that mistreatment of an animal is in “‘direct conflict with PETA’s mission of protecting animals’ and therefore evidence in favor of satisfying the ‘injury in fact’ element of the standing analysis.”

Organizations like the Animal Legal Defense Fund and PETA frequently boast about their cases setting new precedents, so what they are trying to do is not really up for interpretation. Previous lawsuits that they have brought against other animal owners were cited frequently in the court’s ruling in this case — even though many of those cases are under appeal. 

The end goal of these organizations is to have no animals, including domestic pets, ever in human care. By targeting those who cannot afford to take on a massively funded and well-connected organization, they get closer and closer to their goal.

When the new ESA rules went into play, Candy had five tigers, lemurs, and one lion. The caretaker says their second lion had passed away from Addison’s Disease — while court filings from PETA’s vet, who never treated him, asserted that it was anemia. The organization used a photo of the emaciated and sickly looking lion in both the actual court, and the court of public opinion. Bizarrely, the judge argued that the vet who worked with the lion was not an expert, but PETA’s paid vet who was flown in was — despite never meeting the animal.

“This vet from California never saw the animal and wasn’t even in the picture until three years after we had to euthanize him,” Candy told the Gateway Pundit.

In 2017, PETA sued to have the lemurs removed from the park because Candy would allow people to interact with them — a practice the organization vehemently opposes because it is “not in their nature.”

Candy argued that an animal’s “nature” is what they have grown up with, as they have been bred in captivity for so many generations at this point.

“Nothing comes from the wild. They’re all raised in captivity,” Candy said of the animals. “There is no real ‘natural behavior’ for them anymore in captivity. We will try to replicate things that seem natural, but they are all different because they are raised differently. PETA tries to argue that every tiger and lion is the same, but it’s just not true.”

Candy noted that three of his tigers that were born at the park “coincidentally” got fatally sick during the process with PETA. He said that one became especially ill two days after representatives from the organization came and did a walkthrough of his park.

There seem to be a lot of coincidences, exotic animal owners have pointed out to the Gateway Pundit, in which mysterious fires break out, animals get loose, or they get sick… following PETA setting their sights on them.

PETA had been claiming that the lemurs needed to be with more animals of their own kind — so Candy sent them to a place with more lemurs. The move, despite being what they claimed they wanted, outraged the organization.

“They actually offered me, at one point, $150,000 to close the zoo, let them take all the animals, and promise that I will not have any animals there or at my house,” Candy said.

Their offer would include taking Candy’s groundhog who is part of a local tradition in Cumberland celebrating Groundhog’s Day. The animal, Western Maryland Murray, hasn’t been wrong yet in his 14 years of predicting the weather. 

Of course, he did not accept their ridiculous offer. So, Candy says the organization went after his vet next.

“The hearing, I hate to say it, was a farce. They have been going after a lot of people’s veterinarians. That is one way that they battle,” Candy said. This has been alleged by multiple victim’s of PETA’s seizures, including Tim Stark, who Gateway recently interviewed

“They actually threatened my vet of ten years so much that he quit,” Candy said. 

Just like in Stark’s case, PETA threatened to sue the local vet for treating the exotic animals — unless he agreed to their terms and stopped working with the park. 

PETA also convinced the judge to not allow testimony from his next vet, claiming that she “wasn’t an expert.” Another witness Candy tried to call, who was an expert witness in a previous USDA case and has a PhD in big cat behavior, was also determined to not be an “expert” by the organization and the court that was siding with them. 

“I was the only one left to testify, and the judge basically said that I wasn’t an expert on my own animals either,” Candy said. “So, they had their vet come out from California, even though it is illegal for them to come and diagnose animals in Maryland.”

The vet, Dr. Kim Haddad, has been used in several of these cases.

Candy said that PETA was paying a zookeeper from Nebraska $80 an hour, up to $800 a day, to be an expert witness for the organization. “He lied under oath. When you’re paying someone $800 a day to be your witness, do you think they’re going to say anything positive about us? Of course not. That’s not what they’re getting paid for. It’s a weird system.”

As other exotic animal owners have also alleged, including the owner of Cricket Hollow Zoo, whose owner Gateway recently interviewed, Candy says that undercover volunteers were sent to the park in 2014 — not to help make the place the best it could be — but to gather information that could help shut it down.

Candy says that he caught the two men sneaking into the zoo after it was closed for the winter and taking photos, but said that he wanted them to be able to “see the animals and feel good about what they were doing,” so he did not think much of it at the time. It turned out, the men were video and audio recording everything — a violation of the state’s two-party consent wiretapping laws.

Despite being the product of a crime, the court allowed their video to be used as evidence, just without the audio.

“We actually filed a criminal complaint, because it’s against the law. We waited until the negotiations were over, a week before the case started,” Candy said. “Well, PETA filed a complaint saying that we were intimidating their witness and the judge actually ruled in their favor.”

The judge ordered Candy to pay $56,000 in attorney fees for “intimidating their witness” by filing the charges — even though Candy was undeniably their victim.

Candy said that he will never pay the fine and would happily file for bankruptcy first.

When the undercover activists testified, the judge ordered everyone out of the room other than the parties involved and lawyers, and placed a gag on those who remained. Candy was not permitted to tell me what was said, or if they admitted to any crimes, during that portion of the hearing.

Ultimately, the judge ruled that PETA could take their two remaining tigers, 18-year-old Cheyenne and an over 10-year-old white tiger named Mowgli, as well as the then nine-year-old lion.

“The female lion I had raised since it was two days old. I got it because the mother wouldn’t nurse it and the guy who owned the mother knew that I was looking for another lion as a companion for mine,” Candy explained. “They said the reason that they had to take her was because she loved me too much. They said that it was unnatural.”

In her declaration to the court Dr. Haddad wrote of the lion Peka, “she is desperate for social interaction as witnessed by her abnormal interactions with Mr. Candy. On multiple occasions, Mr. Candy was observed reaching through the barrier and petting Peka. This is not normal behavior for a lion.”

PETA also claimed that the lion had a bad back leg, but Candy maintains that it was under control with his vet and that the USDA knew about the health issue as well. He says they agreed that she was still in good health. 

“We make sure all our animals are in good shape, we are small, but that’s our priority,” Candy said. “No matter what we tried to do, there was always something else that they claimed was wrong.”

When PETA came and seized the animals, Candy said that they took them from the property while they were still sedated and without a veterinarian travelling with them. Additionally, the lawyers were helping drag the 500 pound tigers from their enclosures, which appears to be illegal — as there is no public contact allowed after a big cat reaches a certain age.

In this and many of these cases, particularly the ones involving big cats, PETA appears to be funneling animals to one specific sanctuary run by a man named Patrick Craig in Colorado. 

Candy ended up filing a complaint over the handling of the animals and what he saw when he went to visit them. He says that when the lion left she was in perfect condition. When he went to see how the animals were doing, she was all beat up and covered in marks. The tigers were being held in small 16’ by 16’ enclosures, a massive downgrade from the thousands of square feet that they were used to.

The complaint has never been followed up on. Candy says that he has been told that one of the tigers has died — but nobody from PETA or the sanctuary will confirm either way. The Gateway Pundit called the sanctuary, who claimed that all of the cats are still alive, but said that they had no current photos of them to provide proof of life. “We just want to know if they’re okay,” he said.

Meanwhile, PETA has filed three complaints against the Tri-State Zoological Park based on things they have found in discovery, and of course, all of them have been followed up on by the USDA.

One would think that PETA and the sanctuary would be clamoring to show off the cats they “saved” from the alleged “hell hole,” and how great they are doing, instead of hiding them. It does not add up.

In May 2020, PETA helped file another lawsuit by working with a woman from New Jersey named Constance Collins who had visited the park in 2018 and says she “fell in love with all the animals and didn’t like the way they were being kept,” since they did not have standing to file it themselves. She claims that she is emotionally tormented by the animals being there as the reason she deserves standing.

PETA and Collins are seeking to have the rest of his animals removed by claiming that it is a “public nuisance,” likely seeking to use the precedent set in the case against a small Iowa farm and zoo that Gateway Pundit also recently covered. No neighbors or local law enforcement have complained about the park.

The litigation is ongoing — and just so happens to be being heard by the same judge as in his previous case.

“Here’s the thing. A judge should not be allowing a private organization like PETA to take your animals. There’s something wrong with that. It’s a violation of our rights. That’s like me saying ‘I don’t like the way you take care of your dog — give it to me,’” Candy said. If anything, he argued, a government organization should have handled the matter.

Candy acknowledged that under the ESA, private citizens and organizations are allowed to sue whoever they want — but that does not mean that the judge had to give them the cats.

The Tri-State Zoological Park is still open and running for now — though PETA is still fighting to take every animal.

PETA has claimed that they spent $1.2 million fighting Candy in the first lawsuit alone. Who knows how much they are willing to spend this time. For that price, they could have just helped Candy build state of the art enclosures to their liking and helped him hire more experienced workers. It was obviously never really about the well-being of the animals, though.

Those who wish to help contribute to Candy’s battle and continued care for his animals, can do so here.



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