PETA alleges abuse at Yellow River Game Ranch

Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan
Jennifer Balas and her daughter Jada, 1, of Loganville feed a cracker to a donkey at Yellow River Game Ranchin Lilburn on Thursday.

Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan Jennifer Balas and her daughter Jada, 1, of Loganville feed a cracker to a donkey at Yellow River Game Ranchin Lilburn on Thursday.


Logan Slade Trinkle, 2, of Monroe, feeds a carrot to a rabbit at the Yellow River Game Ranch in Lilburn on Thursday.

LILBURN -- Animal rights activists have challenged the permit for one of Gwinnett's most popular tourist attractions.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, known as PETA, has asked the Georgia Department of Natural Resources to not renew the license for the Yellow River Game Ranch, the Lilburn animal park that is the home of the state's official weather prognosticator, groundhog General Beauregard Lee.

The organization said it has compiled evidence, including eyewitness accounts and photographs, showing abuse of the animals, and it has asked DNR to confiscate those animals. The game ranch's license expires Saturday.

"The law is clear, and -- if the DNR confirms our concerns -- so are the Yellow River Game Ranch's violations of it," PETA Fondation Director Delcianna Winders said in a press release. "The DNR cannot allow animals to suffer and die and must slam the door shut on a facility operated by an owner who has shown nothing but contempt for the welfare of animals and Georgia law."

Col. Art Rilling, the ranch's owner, said the accusations likely come from a disgruntled former worker. While he said some tragedies befall the animals, they are well cared for.

"They (the activists) have hated us for years. They've tried to shut us down. They have put spies on our payroll," Rilling said. "They think we're cruel because we let people pet the animals."

At the game ranch, located along U.S. Highway 78, people can get close enough to the animals that any incidences of abuse would have been reported by visitors, Rilling said, "not some third party three states away."

While PETA alleges animals were forced to live for weeks or months in their own excrement, Rilling said cages are cleaned daily.

Other accusations include a raccoon who was beaten to death with a hammer, a bear that was attacked by other bears and could not escape because of "an inadequately sized pen," and a deer that choked to death after being fed a plastic bag by a visitor.

Rilling said he had no knowledge of many of the accusations. He said deer deaths have occurred in the past, but the game ranch has taken steps to prevent that.

He also acknowledged the death of two bear cubs, but said those circumstances often occur in the wild, when a mother rejects its cubs or does not protect them from other animals.

"They make it sound like the animals really suffer," he said. "We work for that not to happen."

He added that the game ranch often gives new life to animals that had been kept as pets until they reach a certain size. They would be put down if the game ranch did not take them in. "That's the good side, and PETA don't like that because they don't like animals in captivity."

Information about the status of the game ranch's license was not immediately available from the state Wildlife Resources Division.


10DogMom 3 years, 5 months ago

Those animals are a part of their family. The management and staff spend more time caring for those animals than with their own families. the animals have the highest quality food, water and veterinary care; health is paramount. as someone who is very much a part of the animal rescue community, I keep a keen eye out whenever I'm there visiting. they do their best to protect those animals from disease, injury and predators.

I don't know who is responsible for saying these things, but I would vouch for any of the employees I've ever watched or seen whenever I've been there. Any time I've ever found an injured wild animal, my first thought has always been "take it to the Yellow River Game Ranch". I know they would help.


roaads1 3 years, 5 months ago

PETA has an agenda. They could care less about animals. And i agree. My kids grew up going there all the time. They are a sanctuary for these animals. Good grief.


dentaldawg83 3 years, 5 months ago

I'll take these dubious accusations more seriously when PETA sends naked actresses and models to picket Yellow River.


MissDaisyCook 3 years, 5 months ago

PETA is a group of dillusional, misguided folk. They have never backed away from creating an issue when one did not exist. I leave near and vist the game ranch; it is clean and well maintained, just as the animals are.


BufordGuy 3 years, 5 months ago

Those folks better watch out who they pick on.


LilburnLady 3 years, 5 months ago

If PETA is so concerned about mistreatment of animals, why is it that over 80% of the animals they take into their own shelters are euthanized, most of them within 48 hours?


PETA volunteers have even been arrested for dumping the bodies of animals into dumpsters. They picked them up and then killed them before they even made it back to the shelter with them! PETA's own records show that less than 1% of the animals they take in are adopted. The vast majority are killed. When PETA can answer those questions, I'll listen to their claims. Otherwise, they are hypocrites and should just butt out of Yellow Game River's operations.


news2me 3 years, 5 months ago

PETA is extreme and I have absolutely no respect or tolerance for them. I remember about 15 years ago going to the Ringling Bros. circus and PETA was outside "protesting." Practically naked women locked in cages painted up like animals screaming in protest. They couldn't care less that kids were their major audience. Brainwashed lunatics!

Yellow River Game Ranch will find that most Gwinnett citizens support them. PETA can go to h---!!!


Karl 3 years, 5 months ago

Glad to see everyone is of like mind in this post. PETA is filled with worthless folks.


jjbod1 3 years, 5 months ago

I think we all need to start a big fight up against PETA, they must not have anything else to do. I have been there many times over the years, and if any one knows how to care for animals the folks at Yellow River do. Most of those animals would of never had a chance if not for the game ranch. the people from PETA need to go jump off a large bridge with boulders underneath, your useless!


NewsReader 3 years, 5 months ago

I thought PETA stood for People Eating Tasty Animals!


jack 3 years, 5 months ago

Maybe it's because the animals are wearing fur.....


BuzzG 3 years, 5 months ago

Its time we demand an investigation into PETA.


amthor 1 year, 11 months ago

Not everyone is of "like mind" in this comment section. Have any of you ever visited Yellow River Game Park? I have, and am relieved to see that there is finally some kind of investigation of its conditions.

If the animals are "part of their family" does that mean they also have sons and daughters kept in featureless pits like they keep their bears? Does it mean that they confine their children in areas so small and devoid of interest that they eventually lose their minds and develop repetitive, self-harming behaviors like their trapped raccoons?

Life is more than "food, water, and vet care."

And no, I'm not a PETA member, but I appreciate their concern for these creatures.


Daniel11111 1 year, 10 months ago

To whom it may concern, Hello. I was thinking yesterday about going to yellow river game ranch, which has been is business for far over 20 years, by my understanding. Anyway, I looked at a couple of review sites (especially tripadvisor.com) and there are a lot of extremely negative reviews in the past few months. Apparently there was a flood at the Yellow river in those recent months that had so much rain, causing damage. It appears to me that many recent comments are part of a smear campaign. Pretty much all these (real or not) opinions portrayed terrible experiences and made my heart hurt to even think about it. Im not so convinced that these are true to any extent; because, even though I have not been to the place they've been open longer than my lifetime, to the public even! It is just in-credible to me that these claims have much validity- Why all this time open if that is how the place operates? What I felt like is that I shouldn't go simply because it made me feel bad to think about the possibilities. And that kind of feeling will keep new customers or maybe even prior customers from wanting to support a company. I've been bullied into being afraid to go somewhere because of unsubstantiated claims posted on the internet. Anyhow, that is my thoughts on it- and I may go to see the animals and be around other creatures, which is why I wanted to go in the first place. If I do, I can post back what I think on this website.



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