HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - A spokesperson for the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) confirms to WHNT News 19 that a complaint has been filed against Harmony Park Safari, after a kangaroo grabbed and bit a 9-year-old girl on Saturday afternoon.
The USDA regulates zoos and other animal exhibitors. The spokesperson tells us two different complaints have been filed against Harmony Safari Park this year, including one regarding the kangaroo attack. She says that complaint came from an outside source.
Now the federal agency will review the complaints. The spokesperson says that will include phone calls to the parties involved, likely accompanied by an unannounced visit.
According to documents provided by the USDA, APHIS, the arm of the agency that regulates animal exhibits, assesses potential actions:
"APHIS may formally investigate alleged violations as warranted. Based on a review of the investigation, APHIS may resolve the issue with a notice of warning or a stipulation agreement, which sets civil penalties for AWA infractions. Civil penalties may include cease-and-desist orders, monetary penalties, and license suspensions or revocations. If APHIS officials determine that an infraction warrants additional action, APHIS submits all evidence to USDA’s Office of the General Counsel for legal review."
The spokesperson says as far as the kangaroo involved goes, their agency role is simply to determine the wellness of the animals exhibited. They do not determine what should happen to the animal.
The kangaroo was behind a fence, but reached through the wire to grab the girl. However, many note the enclosure is clearly labeled that the kangaroo bites. The mother of the girl attacked says her main concern is that she doesn't feel staff responded adequately.
Staff at the park told us on Monday they did not want to comment.