Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

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April 17, 2014

One more round of trouble for park

bporterfield@pvdemocrat.com — For the public face of a Wynnewood area animal park a recent round of violations is just part of the ongoing attacks by a national group he says has put a bulls-eye on the facility.

Joe Schreibvogel described the violations as minor after the park was cited in an investigation conducted by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

He was also quick to stress the investigation was called for by the park’s top critic in recent years, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, better known simply as PETA.

Schreibvogel believes this is another step in PETA’s ongoing strategy of targeting this animal park as a way of bringing attention to itself.

“I’m good for their ticket sales,” he said about PETA.

“I’m an easy target because I have a big mouth and I’m not afraid to stick it out there with my opinions.”

The OSHA investigation at the request of PETA came after a park employee had her arm severely mauled by a tiger when she placed it in a cage last fall.

According to Schreibvogel, it was a couple of months ago when an OSHA investigator looked over the park. He added the person sent had never investigated a zoo before.

A report was later compiled followed by the citations described by Schreibvogel as minor.

Information released by PETA indicated one violation was for the park’s failure to place protective barriers between humans and dangerous big cats and bears.

Schreibvogel stressed that is not as scary as it sounds; plus all the actions recommended by OSHA are currently being done.

Specifically that means a foot of metal is being placed around the chutes used to feed the large animals.

“Mesh or metal around the feed chute, that’s what OSHA is calling the protective barriers,” he said, adding wire or screen was included in the conversation.

Those feed chutes are described as being about 10 inches square.

“I’ve got crews working on that right now. I have until May 12 to get all the feed chutes corrected.”

Ironically last year’s incident with the injured worker did not involve a food chute.

Instead, Schreibvogel says it was all a terrible accident as the result of the female worker violating a safety protocol and placing her hand inside the cage of an adult male tiger.

Other violations were for not having safety data sheets for cleaning products available to employees.

Despite the ongoing battles with PETA the outspoken Schreibvogel sees a bright side in this case.

“Because I’m friends with so many zoos and animal sanctuaries now they all know to have these protective barriers around the feed chutes so employees won’t get scratched,” he said.

“I look at it in a positive way. Basically because Joe got investigated and Joe got cited means we’re going to have 200 safer facilities across the country.”

Schreibvogel adds none of this has had any impact on the park or the number of visitors.

“We’re one of the safest places there is,” he said. “I don’t feel anything is different. It’s busier than ever.”

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