When Carolita McGee was seven, her father moved their family to the Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania.
“Right away, I was drawn in by the forested backyards we had. Even though I enjoyed having friends, nothing compared to the calming & blissful feeling I would get when I was immersed by nature & her Crtrs (critters ;-)),” Carolita wrote in an email discussing her recent petition against the Olympic Game Farm on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula. “It was around 10 years old that I promised nature I would take care of her & that’s pretty much what I’ve been doing ever since.”
Formerly a pet sitter, veterinarian assistant and a worker in the pet shop industry — which she no longer supports, she now helps animals of all kinds, wild and domestic, as a volunteer. She works with local animal control officers and sometimes asks PETA for help when other avenues are exhausted.
As a pet sitter in Los Angeles, Carolita specialized in reptile care and provided basic grooming, including baths & mani/pedis for animals with feathers, scales and fur.
She adopted pets that were no longer wanted or near death, which resulted in having 31 Crtrs at one time in a large apartment with no furniture except a TV on the floor. “I slept on the floor for many years so that my pets could have the best set-up I could give them,” she wrote. They included iguanas, snakes, rodents, a rabbit, fish and a parrot she still has.
“People don’t want to be preached to, so I’m using a different twist to get the message across,” she wrote. “My morning ritual includes signing petitions, writing letters to our government, using social media to share and raise awareness on animal advocacy.”
She continues to work with animal control on local matters and recently started a petition against Olympic Game Farm.
How did you become aware of the Olympic Game Farm?
My husband, Scott, and I visited the farm per a referral from one of the bed and breakfast places we were staying at nearby. We told her about our love for animals and nature, so we were very excited about this “sanctuary” she was raving about!
What kinds of animals live there, and how do do visitors see or interact with them?
We saw farm animals, camel, llama, ponies, bears, wolves, elk, zebra, bison, etc. You pay extra to pet the farm animals, and there are usually kids who enjoy that section. You can pay a dollar or two to buy a loaf of wheat bread to feed the safari animals.
You drive your car on this road that takes you to an open field of wild animals that stick their heads in your window for bread. I didn’t notice a single employee around to make sure no human or animal gets hurt.
We would often get so nervous thinking we were going to run over an animal because they have absolutely no fear of cars. Why would they? Each car is filled with junk food!
We noticed a reptile house and an above-ground pool labeled “aquarium” that cost extra. We regret not checking these out, but we were already so overwhelmed with sadness and disgust about how these poor animals are exploited, we couldn’t stomach it anymore.
What are the animals’ living quarters like?
The animals in the open field have little shelter — just a few wooden beams and a roof scattered here and there. We saw two Kodiak bears in their own open area with just a metal half dome for shelter. There were no pools, nothing to climb around on, but plenty of bread being tossed at them.
A solo black bear and three wolves were housed together in a small, wire enclosure with very little to provide enrichment. These animals were pacing back and forth, showing obvious signs of boredom and frustration. This is the last section we saw before rushing out of there. Unfortunately, I became too overwhelmed.
What are they eating?
The owner said in one article that they are fed fruits, veggies, meat, grains etc. and that the bread is merely a treat, but if you’re open to the public 8+ hours, 7 days a week, offering loaves of bread to every visitor, this bread becomes their staple diet. Even as a treat, it provides no nourishment and can be harmful to these animals. Even the USDA doesn’t approve of this, but they haven’t pushed the owner to stop, which boggles my mind. (I will be posting copies of the USDA reports soon.)
What else are the animals experiencing?
Scott and I mostly witnessed much sadness with many of the animals there. In addition to the pacing, there were animals just still, staring into space. Words are not enough to describe just how absolutely sad they were. It’s gut wrenching. One bear wouldn’t take the bread being tossed at him/her, yet people wouldn’t stop tossing them as they hit his/her body.
Does the game farm charge to visit?
Yes. $14 per person.
Who owns the farm, and how have they responded to your efforts?
Robert Beebe owns the farm. I’ve written a letter to him which he never responded to.
What can I do to help?
Thanks much for asking.
A word of encouragement for all of us
I’m sure you know this already, but with the animal welfare laws being so weak, being an animal advocate can often times feel like we’re running in place to never reach the finish line. This can be quite frustrating and exhausting, but laws change due to persistence and continued courage. Every day I’m learning to be strong for these wonderful non-human beings. Each and every one of them are worth the pain that comes with the fight. I strive to live to see the day animals & their habitats are no longer slaves & exploited for human benefit. That they live to be, at the very least, respected, living wild and free.
Photos used with permission of Carolita McGee.