Two ex-employees of a local zoo are being sued by the organization after it claims the duo were spies for the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).
Stearns Zoological Rescue & Rehab Center Inc., known as Dade City’s Wild Things, and executive director Kathryn Stearns, claim that Jenna Jordan and Delena Pennington gave PETA confidential information about the zoo.
PETA allegedly obtained footage and photos from the two ex-employees, although the suit lacks evidence the content was sent by them. The footage and pictures were then used to negatively depict the zoo in a video posted by PETA, which posted on its website an investigative article titled “The Dark, Deadly Side of Tiger Cub Photo Ops: A PETA eyewitness exposé of Florida’s Dade City’s Wild Things prompts lawsuit.”
The suit states that the video contained false statements from an eyewitness and portrayed abusive behavior toward the animals.
The video resulted in threats and angry comments being directed toward Wild Things. Eventually, the zoo had no choice but to briefly shut down its Facebook page.
Both employees signed a nondisclosure agreement before starting their employment with the zoo. The agreement prohibited employees from revealing confidential information, like photos, videos and recordings of protocol and animal care.
On Nov. 4, 2016, Pennington took to Facebook to voice her opinion of the zoo and of Stearns. According to the suit, the post stated that tiger cubs were “stolen from there mothers right after they are born” and “the GoFundMe account for hurricane Hermine was fake.”
Dade City’s Wild Things, a 22-acre “zoo and animal rehabilitation facility” is located at 7237 Meridian Avenue in Dade City. They are regulated by both the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, FWC, and the USDA, United States Department of Agriculture. Wild Things offers visitors a chance to swim with tigers or alligators or have encounters with a variety of animals.
Pennington and Jordan’s employment ended in the summer of 2016, the reasoning for this isn’t stated in the suit.
The zoo claims it was targeted by PETA like many other small zoos in an attempt to shut it down.