Animals Healthy at Jackson's Ranch, USDA Says
WASHINGTON Rest easy animal lovers: the giraffes, elephants, snakes, monkeys and other assorted wildlife at Michael Jackson's private zoo on his Neverland Valley Ranch in central California are fine.
A surprise inspection at Jackson's ranch found animals there in good health, a spokesman for the U.S. Agriculture Department said Wednesday.
The inspection was prompted by concerns voiced by the animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, known as PETA.
"We conducted a surprise inspection on Dec. 21, I believe, regarding a complaint that we received from PETA. And our veterinary medical officer found the animals were in good health," USDA spokesman Darby Holladay said. "There are no violations of the Animal Welfare Act."
PETA urged the inspection, citing a report by Fox News suggesting that animals at Jackson's ranch might be suffering from lack of food and care.
"We're pleased that they (USDA inspectors) did go out there but still feel cautious about this situation because the regulations that the USDA enforces are minimum, and I emphasize minimum," PETA spokeswoman Lisa Wathne said by telephone. "In cases where they declare that there are no violations of the Animal Welfare Act, animals can still be languishing in really abysmal conditions."
Wathne said PETA planned to urge the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to investigate the status of any endangered species at the ranch, notably an African elephant and possibly an orangutan.
Jackson was acquitted of sex-abuse charges last June and is currently living in Bahrain in the Middle East.