Even after years of animal welfare concerns, Terri Petter continues to operate her pelt farm petting zoo.
The story of Fur-Ever Wild, a pelt farm parading as a wildlife learning center, is long and complicated, and unfortunately not over yet. Owner Terri Petter’s unorthodox methods of animals exploitation have gained national attention in recent years, but her petting zoo remains open to the public.
Since 2002, Petter has been showing people around her ranch, where she keeps fur-bearing wild animals including grey wolves, foxes, cougars, and more. At the 100-acre Fur-Ever Wild ranch in Lakeville, Minnesota, Petter charges “volunteers” for food to feed the animals. Food packages start at $10.00 and playing with the wolf pups or fox kits is $20.00 for 20 minutes.
“Fur-Ever Wild isn’t what Terri sells to the public,” said neighbor, Bill Funk. “You can hear it if you listen to her wolves. I’ve heard wolves howl in the wild. I can tell you Terri’s wolves don’t make the same sound. There’s a different tone to it. These wolves, they’re sad.”
Former employee of Fur-Ever Wild, Tim Warner, remembers one chilly morning when he was called to check on the animals and came upon a disturbing scene,
“I walked into where they were kept and there was a dead skunk, an albino skunk…two dead porcupines, and a lynx that was dead. We’re not talking like they just died. They were frozen stiff, their bodies kind of deflated as if they hadn’t been checked on for days. The ones still alive were freezing and ravenous like they hadn’t been fed in days. When I called Terri, she swore she’d checked on them that morning and acted like it was no big deal.”
Then neighbors started complaining about a stench emitting from the ranch. ”Since approximately 2001,” reads an affidavit signed by Petter in December 2015, “I have been using the [property where Fur-Ever Wild is located] as a fur farm… engaged in breeding, raising, producing, and marketing fur-bearing animals or the products of fur-bearing animals.”
Do any animals die of natural causes? she was asked.
“It depends on the fur market,” Petter responded. “[This] year there is a lot of wolves…. I pelted two wolves last night…. And there is another two going tonight…. There will be 25 within the next three weeks — two weeks.” According to Minnesota state law, as well as Eureka county ordinance, fur farming is an allowable agricultural business.
In response to the action taken against her, Petter has started a Go Fund Me page, detailing her legal battle. In a year, she has raised less than $600. She distributed a threatening three-page letter throughout town, saying “Remember the animals aren’t going anywhere. You make the call on what you think is best, but the more time and energy I waste on this lawsuit, the more animals I need to breed…. The choice is up to you.”
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