An animal act called Sea Lion Splash is a frequent performer at county fairs in Florida. During a May 17 inspection at a fair in South Carolina, the U.S. Department of Agriculture found numerous serious violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA):
- Five sea lions were confined in a pool that did not meet the AWA’s minimum size requirements. The traveling exhibit also failed to provide the animals with adequate protection from direct sun.
- Three of the five sea lions were found to be suffering from serious, painful eye conditions. The USDA inspector noted that water in the sea lion’s pool was not being tested, and chlorine levels and lack of salinity in the pool was contributing to the eye problems. According to the inspection report, “The attending veterinarian has prescribed all of the sea lions have easy access to salt water. This is not being done.” The USDA inspector also noted that medical records show that one of the sea lions had similar eye problems in June 2015, indicating “recurrent, chronic eye problems which are not being adequately addressed and treated properly.”
- The USDA inspector called into question the qualifications of the two trainers. The inspector reported that the head trainer “does not appear to have adequate training and knowledge to be the primary caretaker for these animals;” also, “The caretaker does not have a copy of the USDA regulations and has not read them.”
The following fairs featured Sea Lion Splash in early 2016. Please contact the fairs and ask them to reconsider including Sea Lion Splash in future fairs.
Daniel West, Manager
Manatee County Fair
Jay Spicer, Manager
Martin County Fair Association
Rory Martin, President
Sarasota Agricultural Fair
Steven Shechtman, President
Santa’s Enchanted Forest
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