CHIPPEWA FALLS, Wis. — Barely over halfway through the month of October, a petting zoo in northwest Wisconsin is being forced to reconsider their “Hawk-tober” attraction, due to several injuries and lawsuits.
“We thought this promotion would give kids an up-close look at several birds of prey, animals we know capture the hearts of children everywhere,” said Irvine Zoo spokesman Charles Purdy. “And, well, as it turns out these birds are capable of capturing fingers as well.”
“Children love dinosaurs,” Purdy continued. “We thought they’d enjoy having a physical encounter with a direct relative of the dinosaur, like an adult female Galapagos Hawk who has been recently separated from her hatchlings, for instance.”
The Hawk-tober event includes 14 different hawk species, each one equipped with a vicious beak and razor-sharp talons used to eviscerate and disembowel squirrels, field mice and other small prey animals.
Injuries have included lacerations, some digit loss and an unfortunate eye incident, according to officials at nearby St. Joseph’s Hospital.
“Rylan wanted to go to the zoo and pet some goats for his birthday,” said Tammy Shaw, mother of one of the victims. “As soon as we got there they immediately whisked him into the hawk cage without ever asking us. I heard a lot of flapping and screaming.”
“Turns out the hawks were actually eating a goat in there,” Shaw later added.
The zoo will be temporarily closed this week as it undergoes the same rigorous safety inspections that followed the zoo’s “Croc-tober” attraction last year.
Cole Moser is a freelance urban falconer and a supporter of irresponsible petting zoos.
Image by kat+sam.