Lagoon has long history of animal protests

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Protestors of Lagoon’s Wild Kingdom Train organized a protest outside of Lagoon on March 31, 2018. (Amy Meyer)

Editor’s note: This story pairs with “Debate: do Lagoon animals receive adequate care?”

Lagoon has already opened on the weekends in anticipation of the upcoming summer season. On the first day of its opening, March 31, hundreds of cars entered Lagoon’s parking lot to enjoy a fun-filled day, but they first had to pass by a line of protestors.

Dozens of Utah residents and animal rights activists who believe the Lagoon animals’ living conditions are improper coordinated to gather, signs in hand, on the side of the road leading to Lagoon. 

This protest is similar to several other Wild Animal Kingdom protests over the years.

Provo resident Joshua Faulkner, who participated in the most recent protest, said he saw much support from those who showed up to protest and from people driving by.

“Many people showed their support by rolling down their windows and telling us how disgusted they were with Lagoon’s wild animal ride, and others showed their support with a few quick honks on their car horns or a simple ‘thumbs up,’ he said.

Faulkner said he has perceived Lagoon’s animals as sad and mistreated since he visited the park as a child.

In addition to organized protests outside the park, several petitions have circulated online, garnering signatures over the years.

(McKenna Park)

The largest is a petition on Care2 titled “Persuade Lagoon Amusement Park to close down its ‘Zoo,'” created by Grace, Kenna and Matt Barkdull in 2016. It has garnered over 219,000 signatures, and its goal is 500,000. The petition says its targets are Farmington’s mayor and City Council and Lagoon’s management.

The Barkdull’s petition garnered over 139,000 signatures within 13 days, according to KSL.

“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.”

Other online petitions include one on Change.org titled “Shut down LAGOON’S ‘WILD ANIMAL KINGDOM’ RIDE” created by Ashlee House, which states that it’s directed specifically to Lagoon’s media representative Adam Leishman. It has over 6,000 signatures, and its goal is 7,500.

It is really a very tragic thing we have right here in our own state, and I think that’s why you see so many people speaking out against it,” said Utah Animal Rights Coalition Director Amy Meyer. Utah Animal Rights Coalition campaigns against Lagoon’s attraction with a page on its website, a social media account and events page.

In addition to petitions, several local news sites have published opinion articles on Lagoon’s attraction, including the Standard-Examiner, Salt Lake Magazine and Deseret News.

The Standard-Examiner’s 2016 opinion piece is written by the Standard-Examiner staff Editorial Board and is titled “It’s time for Lagoon to stop caging wild animals.”

“Wildlife deserves to be treated with respect, as Ringling Bros. and SeaWorld learned,” the article says. “Lagoon, however, persists in treating animals as cheap entertainment.”

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