RIVERDALE, Md., March 17, 2004--The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service today announced it has obtained an admission of guilt from John F. Cuneo, Jr. and the Hawthorn Corporation of Grays Lake, Ill. Hawthorn Corporation admitted guilt on 19 charges of violating the Animal Welfare Act. The violations included failing to establish and maintain programs of veterinary care; failing to handle elephants in a manner that did not cause physical harm, unnecessary discomfort, behavioral stress and trauma and; failing to handle elephants so there was minimal risk of harm to the animals and the public. Hawthorn Corporation was assessed a civil penalty of $200,000 and must place all of its elephants with APHIS-approved facilities by Aug. 15.
APHIS conducts routine inspections of licensees to ensure compliance with AWA's animal care and treatment standards. Any noncompliance found by inspectors can lead to investigation, resulting in fines, suspensions and license revocations.