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A PETA undercover investigation into Moulton Chinchilla Ranch (MCR)—a massive breeding mill near Chatfield, Minnesota, that kept approximately 1,000 chinchillas confined to wire-floored cages in a shed reeking of ammonia—found that these sensitive exotic animals were denied not only everything natural and important to them but also the basic necessities of life, including effective veterinary care for chronic infections and severe, life-threatening injuries that caused them to suffer and even die.
Based on PETA’s evidence, law-enforcement officials executed a search warrant at MCR and opened a criminal investigation.
Charlene was denied veterinary care for this excruciatingly painful foot injury, which left a bloody stump with bones exposed. PETA’s investigator rescued her. She was rushed for emergency veterinary care, underwent surgery, and continues to heal.
Nowhere to Run or Hide
Chinchillas are active, inquisitive animals who love to run, jump, and climb—activities that are extremely important to their physical and psychological health—but at MCR, they were kept constantly confined to small, barren, rusty wire-floored cages. They had nowhere to burrow or hide, which to these nocturnal prey animals was extremely stressful and terrifying.
There were piles of feces just outside the shed, and some even flowed back inside through a door. Many of these social animals—who naturally live in herds of up to 100, high up in the Andes Mountains—were kept all alone in solitary cages. Others were crammed together in cages so tightly that they could barely move. Some only had a block of wood to sit or gnaw on. There were no toys, bedding, or environmental enrichment.
Deprived of everything meaningful to them, the chinchillas in these highly stressful, inhumane conditions mutilated themselves and their cagemates, which is a sign of severe distress. One young animal’s ears were nearly chewed off.
Others, including one named Casper by PETA’s investigator, suffered from severe fur loss. Metal collars prevented the female chinchillas from escaping from the males, who were allowed to impregnate them over and over so that their babies could be sold to laboratories and into the pet trade. One baby chinchilla was found dead.
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