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Utah teens upset by treatment of animals at Lagoon start petition

By Megan Marsden Christensen  |  Posted Jul 29th, 2016 @ 7:02pm


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FARMINGTON — Two teenage girls are concerned for the animals living at Lagoon, so they’ve decided to do something about it.

Thirteen-year-old Grace Barkdull and her 16-year-old sister, Kenna, started a petition to try to relocate the animals that are part of the Wild Kingdom Train ride at Lagoon. In the 13 days since Grace wrote the petition, more than 139,000 people have signed it, according to their mom, Kristin Barkdull, and the petition.

“The animals that live in the ‘zoo’ that are on public display at Lagoon have a very sad life,” Grace wrote in the petition. “Ranging from tigers to wildebeest, lions, jaguars, zebra, miniature donkeys and sadly, so much more, are kept in small dirt, concrete, and wire cages with very limited space and no enrichment whatsoever.

“There is also no grass in any of the cages so they probably have never put their feet on anything soft in their life. For anyone who has been to Lagoon, have you ever noticed the animals pacing in their cages and doing nothing all day? Do you think those animals are being treated with respect as they deserve to be? I don't think so,” she wrote.

Grace told KSL.com she is hoping they can persuade Lagoon to relocate the animals and to find a better purpose for the park’s train ride.

Grace believes Lagoon would benefit from closing its zoo. She said they will save money since they wouldn’t be buying food for the animals, and she said she knows a lot of people who won’t go to Lagoon because of the animal situation, so she’s certain a lot more people would go to the park.

Kristin Barkdull said Grace has talked about sending the petition to Lagoon and the Farmington City Council or the Farmington Mayor once the petition gets 500,000 signatures.

Lagoon spokesman Adam Leishman has heard of Grace and Kenna’s petition. He said the U.S. Department of Agriculture frequently performs unannounced inspections on the zoo, and it has an excellent record.

“We have three veterinarians on staff. Each one of those veterinarians has a backup veterinarian if one of those veterinarians is unavailable or out of town,” he said, adding that the Lagoon animals get excellent care.

Several of the animals in the amusement park came from sanctuaries that were unable to take care of them financially, he said.

Lagoon does not have plans to relocate its animals. Leishman said the Wild Kingdom Train is one of the most popular attractions at the park.

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