We just received from the USDA a copy of the application for a USDA license filed by Karri Murphy in July of 2012, on behalf of the board of interns that were planning to run Safari’s. We also requested and received all correspondence related to the application, including the three-page letter of October 11, 2012, from Robert M. Givens, DVM, Regional Director – Animal Care, Western Region, to Karri Murphy, denying the application, based on Lori Ensign-Scroggins still maintaining ownership of the park and having the company Safari’s Inc. still in her name. Images of all three pages of the official letter are available to view in the photo album connected to this post. There are several important subjects we will address, related to this correspondence and the application information itself, in future posts here, to be published later this week.
Below are excerpts from the USDA letter to Murphy, beginning with the bottom of the first page.
“As you are aware, the same premises and animals identified on your application pertain to Safari’s, Inc., a corporation controlled by Lori Ensign Scroggins. Pursuant to a consent decision and order filed on May 29, 2012, the AWA exhibitor’s license held by Safari’s, Inc., and pursuant to which Ms. Ensign Scroggins operated (73-C-0137), was revoked, effective August 1, 2012. A copy of that order is attached.
[ http://www.dm.usda.gov/oaljdecisions/20529_12-0340_CD_AWA_SafarisInc.pdf ]
According to the Oklahoma Secretary of State, however, Safari’s, Inc., remains an active Oklahoma corporation.
The evidence that we have reviewed reveals that Safari’s, Inc., and Ms. Ensign Scroggins have a substantial interest in the operation of Safari’s Wildlife Sanctuary, Inc. The May 19, 2012, minutes of a board of directors meeting (presumably of Safari’s, Inc.), reveal an intent to simply “change the name” and corporate form of Safari’s, Inc. and the evidence as a whole indicates that Ms. Ensign Scroggins continues to control the premises, the animals, and the records. In an affidavit that you executed on September 11, 2012, you stated that Ms. Ensign Scroggins owns the property located at 26881 E. 58th St., Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, and that Ms. Ensign Scroggins continues to retain ownership and control of the animals identified on your license application, which are in residence at that property. [additional information followed about individuals living and working on premises followed, with identifying information blocked for privacy concerns] The transfer of animals, according to Ms. Ensign Scroggin’s July 2, 2012, letter remains contingent upon your obtaining an exhibitor’s license: “If USDA license is not achieved/or denied, all animals property…will formally return to Lori Ensign, Safari’s Inc. ownership, to continue operations without a license and no longer open to the public. If the new corporation cannot obtain license, they will not be able to pay the bills. And that responsibility will fall back onto Lori Ensign and family to continue to find funds to pay for their care.”
The information has been provided to date does not indicate an arm’s-length transaction whereby Safari’s, Inc., and Ms. Ensign Scroggins divested themselves of the real property, animals, or equipment, nor have the latter distanced themselves from the operation of the facility. Indicative of this is the fact that Ms. Ensign Scroggins retains custody of records (“[a]ll documents will be kept in Lori’s house still.”), and “will serve as an advisor and volunteer at the park.”
[a USDA judge’s decision on a similar APHIS case is cited in next paragraph]
Finally, Safari’s, Inc.’s website contains a statement assuring patrons of the continuity of the facility’s management: ‘Safari’s Sanctuary is currently closed to the public while a group of our dedicated volunteers update many of our animal habitats and apply for a USDA exhibitors license. Our “babies” will continue to receive the same care and love as they have for over 17 years!”
It appears to us that Ms. Ensign Scroggins and/or Safari’s, Inc., are affiliated with, and have a substantial interest in, Safari’s Wildlife Sanctuary, Inc. It also appears that issuance of an exhibitor’s license to Safari’s Wildlife Sanctuary, Inc., would tend to circumvent the revocation of AWA license number 73-C-0137.
Accordingly, pursuant to sections 2.11(a)(5), 2.11(a)(6), 2.11(c), and 2.11(d) of the AWA regulations, we hereby deny the application submitted by Safari’s Wildlife Sanctuary, Inc. If Safari’s Wildlife Sanctuary, Inc., disagrees with this determination, it may request a hearing in accordance with Section 2.11(b) of the regulations and applicable rules of practice for the purpose of showing why the application for license should not be denied. A copy of the Rules of Practice is enclosed. A request for a hearing must be in writing, and should be filed within 20 days of the date of receipt of this letter with the Office of the Hearing Clerk at the following address:
[Washington, DC, office address and telephone numbers followed]
Should Safari’s Wildlife Sanctuary, Inc., request a hearing, the license denial will remain in effect for at least until a final decision has been issued. If Safari’s Wildlife Sanctuary, Inc., elects not to request a hearing, the denial will remain in effect for one year from the date of this letter, at which time Safari’s Wildlife Sanctuary, Inc. may reapply for an Animal Welfare license.
We are returning your application, APHIS form 7003A, the money order [# followed] in the amount of $10.00 received on August 13, 2012.
Please know that is a violation of the AWA and the regulations to conduct regulated activity without holding a valid license.”
[signed by Robert M. Gibbens, DVM, Regional Director – Animal Care, Western Region, USDA]
NEXT related topic to address: Why did Safari’s Vice President Tina Gunn respond to this letter directly to the USDA, instead of President Karri Murphy, to whom the letter was addressed? Had Karri already left Safari’s by that time? If so, why is Tina quoted with a statement that Karri is still president in the Tulsa World article titled “Broken Arrow animal sanctuary needs a helping hand” dated December 14, 2012? Was there a deliberate intention to deceive the USDA and the public that the “board management” was still intact and operational?
Check back soon for more details on that topic and more essential related information.