Sloth’s death at roadside zoo prompts call for cruelty charges


PETA releases inspection report revealing emaciated animal died from blunt force trauma at Debbie Dolittle’s Indoor Petting Zoo

On Feb. 6, PETA sent a letter calling on Pierce County Animal Control to investigate Debbie Dolittle’s Indoor Petting Zoo, its operator Donald Miller, and all other culpable parties after the death of a young female sloth who was being used for public encounters at the facility – and to charge them with cruelty to animals.  

According to a recently released U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) inspection report from Dec. 10, 2019, the sloth, Malia, died in October after falling from a climbing structure. A necropsy found that she was suffering from “severe emaciation, indications of chronic stress, and older bruising to the body wall,” leading the USDA to note that these findings were consistent with mishandling and neglect. PETA points out that the necropsy provides evidence of what appears to be a violation of Washington law, which states that a person is guilty of first-degree animal cruelty when they negligently starve an animal. 

“Any reasonable animal-care facility would notice if an animal were wasting away from starvation,” says PETA Foundation Supervising Veterinarian Dr. Heather Rally. “PETA is calling on Pierce County Animal Control to hold Debbie Dolittle’s Indoor Petting Zoo responsible for the neglect that likely played a role in this vulnerable young animal’s death.”

PETA – whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment” and which opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview – further notes that the USDA previously cited Debbie Dolittle’s for a violation of the federal Animal Welfare Act following the death of a young tamandua just three months before Malia died.

For more information, please visit

Subscribe to our newsletter

To stay updated with all the latest news, and offers.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.