GREENSBORO, N.C. — A popular exotic animal park in Mooresville is a source of joy for many Triad families, given its up-close-and-personal and interactive experience. Ranch employees oversee the dozens of farm and exotic animals, but who oversees the ranch?

VERIFY QUESTION

Good Morning Show viewer Ashley wrote, "Hey, Meghann, I wanted to know if places like Lazy 5 Ranch are regulated by the state. When my family went, the animals were constantly being fed by visitors, and that can't be good for them. Also, the ones that were in the enclosures didn't have the cleanest environment. We had fun, but I am an animal person and want to make sure they are being taken care of correctly."

VERIFY SOURCE

  • Andre Bell - Public Affairs Specialist, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)

VERIFY PROCESS

Andre Bell with the USDA explained Lazy 5 Ranch is regulated by the federal government. For 50 years, the USDA has enforced the Animal Welfare Act, which Congressional Amendments have strengthened over the years. The USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) enforces it. The act requires humane care and treatment of animals, including proper sanitation, handling and housing.

Also, all individuals and businesses dealing with certain animals must be licensed or registered with APHIS. The regulated animals include those bred and sold for use as pets, used in research, transported commercially or exhibited to the public.

APHIS inspectors must conduct unannounced inspections of every licensed or registered facility in the country. An inspector must receive full access to all areas where regulated animals live, and a responsible adult must accompany the inspector.

In April, the Lazy 5 Ranch owner, Henry Hampton, had to pay a $20,000 fine to the federal government. The USDA had filed a report in September, accusing Lazy 5 Ranch of 13 violations of the Animal Welfare Act dating from 2015 to 2017.

They included multiple animals who needed veterinarian attention, not having a responsible adult present during the inspection and letting guests feed animals from their cars without an attendant present.

RELATED: Lazy 5 Ranch Pays Fine For Charges of Mistreating Animals

RELATED: Lazy 5 Ranch Accused of Animal Abuse

RELATED: Lazy 5 Ranch In Mooresville Defends USDA Citations

WFMY News 2 reached out to Hampton for comment and had not heard back as of Monday morning. Hampton told WFMY News 2 CBS partner WBTV his staff has addressed each complaint and does properly care for the animals.

VERIFY INQUIRY

Private animal facilities like Lazy 5 Ranch are regulated by USDA inspectors and subject to all rules under the Animal Welfare Act.

Do you have a VERIFY inquiry? Submit the question via selfie video to Meghann Mollerus via:

Facebook: Meghann Mollerus News

E-mail: Mmollerus@wfmy.com

Twitter: @MeghannMollerus