A rhinoceros has escaped from the zoo that People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals’ “expert witness,” wildlife consultant and behavioral specialist Jay Pratte, designed enclosures for until July.
The “expert” is used by PETA in cases where they are attempting to seize animals from privately owned zoos, exotic pet owners and smaller preserves — usually for mistakes or transgressions that are far less dire than what has happened in the last few months at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo. He is paid handsomely for his testimonies, at a rate of $80 an hour up to $800 a day.
On Tuesday, guests at the zoo Pratte oversaw for 11 years were told to shelter in place as a 5,000-pound Indian rhino had escaped from their barn enclosure during normal business hours.
During his time at the zoo, Pratte was in charge of “exhibit design and restructuring,” according to his LinkedIn profile. The enclosure has not been changed since he left.
The rhino, Jontu, was located eating grass about 35 feet from his enclosure, according to Dan Cassidy, the zoo’s vice president of animal management.
“Cassidy explained that the rhino escaped through a gate to his enclosure that wasn’t locked properly. The zoo plans to install a second gate as a precautionary measure and is thinking about fencing in the behind-the-scenes area,” People Magazine reports.
Cassidy, whose employees are harshly critical of the smallest transgressions at other zoos, acknowledged that sometimes, mistakes happen, no matter how careful you are.
“I’ve seen it happen at other zoos. I was like ‘Man, what kind of security do they have there that a rhino gets out?” Cassidy said while chuckling. “And now I know it can happen here too.”
Pratte left his position at the zoo, where he worked as a welfare manager for over a decade, one day after it was reported that as many as 200 guests at the facility may have been exposed to rabies from a rabid bat that was at the property.
The zoo claimed that the bat was wild and not part of their collection.
“To be clear, this was a wild bat that made its way into the aquarium, and not a bat from the zoo’s collection,” the zoo said in a press release.
As the Gateway Pundit previously reported, Pratte once lied about a cheetah attack at a zoo he managed, causing his friend’s dog to be euthanized.
Under his “expert” leadership at Canada’s Polar Park, a 19-year-old girl, Jacky Ouellette, and a 12-year-old child were placed in charge of weeding inside and around the cheetah enclosure. On July 13, 1993, the two young people stepped inside the cage to clear thistles, something which they were apparently used to doing, though Pratte maintained that the girl was lying and that she was not supposed to be in there.
Pratte ended up lying to law enforcement and saying that she was attacked by a dog, and handed over his friend’s chow chow mix that he was babysitting while they were out of town. The dog was euthanized for the attack that it was not involved in.
Pratte has also been accused by multiple people of lying for PETA in cases where they are trying to seize animals from smaller private zoos and sanctuaries.
One of their biggest targets in recent years has been a Maryland man named Bob Candy of the Tri-State Zoological Park in the small town of Cumberland. PETA actually argued in a court filing that one reason they needed to “rescue” the park’s lion was because it liked him too much — and that it was unnatural for a wild animal to care about humans.
Candy says that Pratte lied about the enclosures at his zoo on behalf of PETA.
“In his attempt to make it sound like our enclosures are poorly built and unsafe, he testified to the construction of our lion enclosure that the back wall is made of thin blocks and a car could drive through it. The wall (150 ft) is constructed of crates at 5 feet thick and reinforced with wire fencing. There is no road there! He also made a number of other false statements during his perjurious testimony,” Candy told the Gateway Pundit.
It is important to reiterate that the enclosure that was under Pratte’s management for 11 years just had a rhino escape. In July, as the bat fiasco was underway, Pratte once again went to Candy’s zoo to look for problems alongside lawyers from PETA.
“I also found it interesting that he was here looking at our few animals instead of worrying about the bats, rabies, and testing being done at his place around the same time. Guess PETA’s pay was higher!” Candy noted.