Calls are getting louder for the closure of a small zoo in Piscataway and the safe relocation of the animals that live there.

Johnson Park Animal Haven houses common farm animals as well as some more exotic species like emu, alpacas, pheasant and a mini-horse. They are available for you to visit and feed. Animal Haven does not actively seek new animals but accepts them on a rescue basis, mostly from government agencies.

For years there have been concerns about where the zoo is located along the Raritan River. Its an area that is prone to flooding. In 1999, nine horses died after flooding from Tropical Storm Floyd.

Concerns for animal safety have come up multiple times since then.

When the remnants of Hurricane Ida raked across the Garden State, Animal Haven was flooded again as the Raritan swelled over its banks.

Facebook/Johnson Park Zoo Animals
Facebook/Johnson Park Zoo Animals
Facebook/Johnson Park Zoo Animals

Animal welfare advocate Gabriela Lombardi of Hillsborough posted several photos to her social media page showing animals in the flood waters, and ultimately started a change.org petition to get the animals relocated and to a better life.

To think these animals are in the care of people who clearly do not put their needs first, is frightening. They are scared & are not able to do what their instincts tell them to. These animals should be free, or in a farm, or a sanctuary. They deserve a better life, better caretakers, a safer, well cared for environment. - change.org petition

Reporter Cheryl Makin at MyCentralJersey.com wrote a detailed article about the history of the zoo as well as past and current problems. She pointed out discrepancies in statements from Middlesex County, which oversees the zoo.

Makin reports the county issued a statement saying "all animals under our care are accounted for, and they are all being fed and provided fresh water." Later, they revised that statement and deleted the phrase "being fed and provided fresh water" deleted.

That has prompted new concerns about whether any of the animals kept at the zoo drowned during the September 1 flooding.

County officials have not addressed that concern directly, but did issue a statement to MyCentralJersey stressing the Zoo is staffed seven days a week and "subject to federal inspections."

Aside from the petition, Animal welfare groups have protested at the park and will do so again this Saturday.

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Because the regulation of exotic animals is left to states, some organizations, including The Humane Society of the United States, advocate for federal, standardized legislation that would ban owning large cats, bears, primates, and large poisonous snakes as pets.

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