COLLINS, MS (WLBT) - If you've never stopped to go behind the pink fence and take a look inside the Collins Zoo on Highway 49, let the Humane Society of the United States become your eyes. The group conducted an undercover investigation at the zoo, planting an associate there under the guise of a volunteer.
"A 28-day operation at which time they allegedly found some serious discrepancies in the care of the animals, sanitary conditions and public safety," says Jim Walker with the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks.
Their video reveals exotic animals in small enclosures and muddy conditions. Some of the animals are limping, others are pouncing at each other. A lion's ribs are protruding in the video.
The Humane Society of the United States says it also videotaped venomous snakes in an unmanned room that were housed in a manner that could put visitors at risk.
Also, the creatures do not appear to be kept in double enclosures, which is a safety hazard for zoo visitors.
The Humane Society has filed a formal complaint with the Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks, and it's not the Department's first run-in with the Collins Zoo.
"I'd like to use stronger language, however at the present time we are in litigation with them," Walker says.
We asked him what it would take to get the zoo shut down. "We're determined to bring them into compliance. If not, if they don't meet all the rules and regulations, then they need to be shut down," he says.
The Collins Zoo must acquire its permit every year from the Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks.
©2009 WLBT. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.