Since opening in the mall four years ago, the ‘academy' has been charging guests to see its animal exhibits, purporting to serve some educational benefit. Critics, however, see the zoo much differently - as a blatant cruelty.
Last month, the petition-merle-hay-mall-zoo/12121405/">Des Moines Register reported about an online a petition to "stop the zoo", which has since gathered nearly 75,000 signatures. At the time, the zoo's operator defended the business by saying, basically, that animals are suppose to have it rough.
"Animal rights people have got this idea that it's ‘Kumbaya' out there in the wild. It's violent. It's survival of the fittest," curator Ron DeArmond said. "It's like Obamacare in here. They get care and feeding and don't have to do anything for it."