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Choctaw County tiger exhibitor gets USDA license cancelled

Published: Dec. 1, 2021 at 6:50 PM CST
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HUGO, Okla. (KXII) - An animal exhibitor out of Choctaw County had his USDA exhibitor’s license cancelled this week following a USDA inspection citing neglect to the animals, poor living conditions, inadequate medical care and more.

Adam Burck, a tiger exhibitor out of Hugo, got his USDA exhibitor’s license cancelled in part due to the fact that the federal government said he did not establish a permanent facility for the now four tigers he houses.

“If he continues to exhibit he’s continuing to break the law,” said Debbie Metzler, associate director for captive animal law enforcement for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). “The tigers were going unmonitored and the USDA was unaware for years that he was keeping tigers in this barn in Oklahoma.”

Metzler said Burck was keeping the tigers in transport cages designed for them to be shipped around the country for their circus shows at the facility in Grant.

Metzler said before he came to Oklahoma, Burck was housing tigers in Indiana and did not alert the USDA that he set up a facility in Oklahoma “so when they would go inspect his facility he wouldn’t be there.”

The USDA inspected his facility in June and through a FOIA request Metzler viewed the footage which depicted “the tigers standing in their own waste, they’re pacing out of agitation and this is the way they lived all of the time.”

“They were in this barn that was poorly ventilated, there was a rancid odor and the floor was covered in maggots,” Metzler said.

The same cages and conditions Metzler says Burck would ship the tigers out in to perform across the country.

After a second inspection his USDA license was cancelled.

“They have to contort their bodies just to turn around,” Metzler said. “One tiger takes a lick of some liquid of the ground and reacts to it, so whatever that is, she was standing in it.”

Even after he had his exhibitor’s license cancelled Metzler said Burck still forced the tigers to perform “painful and confusing” tricks at a circus in Indiana.

“There was a particular tiger named Shir-kahn and a veterinarian had not even inspected him and he could be suffering from many health conditions and Birck had neglected to call a veterinarian to even come look at him,” Metzler said.

Birck is still allowed to house the four tigers he has but no longer legally allowed to exhibit them in a circus.

The USDA can still fine him civil penalties for failed inspections, confiscate the tigers and revoke his license permanently if conditions don’t improve.

Metzler says even though cancelling his license didn’t stop Birk from letting the tigers perform illegally she would like to see them in accredited sanctuary.

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