Did This California Ranch Leave Their Exotic Animals Behind During the Wildfires?
Comedian, actress and author Whitney Cummings has taken took to Instagram this past weekend to speak up on behalf of animals potentially in danger from California's raging wildfires. Initially, Cummings simply updated followers on the evacuation of her own home and animals. She soon turned her attention to the animals at Malibu Wine Safaris located at Saddlerock Ranch.
The Malibu winery, where customers enjoy a "safari" around the property while wine tasting and taking photos with exotic animals, has become a hot spot for tourists and celebs. Big names like Kim Kardashian, Diddy and Selena Gomez have all visited the winery to take a selfie with their most-famous resident, Stanley the giraffe.
After people voiced their concerns about the attraction's animals last week, Malibu Winery released a statement Saturday (November 10), saying, "Our amazing animal care and facilities team began preparing for evacuations late last night and because of their efforts we have survived the fire." The winery also noted there was a "small number" of animals unaccounted for but assured the public that their "management team and animal trainers are onsite right now feeding, providing water, repairing enclosures and caring for our animal family (including Stanley)."
On Sunday (November 11), Cummings "went rogue," venturing up to the property to check on Stanley and the rest of the animals herself. The comedian posted multiple photo and videos to both her Instagram feed and Story, alleging "they didn't evacuate their animals and still won't." Apparently reporting from the scene, Cummings claimed "the pastures were still burning in areas when I got there, an injured pig was found by us that nobody was looking for, and the owners of boarded horses were told they were evacuated which is a lie."
Interestingly, Cummings' report came the same day Malibu Wines posted multiple videos to their Instagram of staff seemingly feeding and checking on animals, inspecting damage to the property and more.
Cummings posted a since-deleted photo early Monday which showed just how close the fire actually came to a pen where Stanley was being kept. (It is not known whether the giraffe was in the pen or not when the fire actually approached.) In the post, Cummings alleged "they keep saying they 'evacuated' but that means into a pasture that’s still smokey and burning on their [premises] just FYI."
In another Instagram post, Cummings responded to comments saying that transporting large exotic animals can be harmful if rushed or not done properly. "They managed to do it for the giraffe to be in the Hangover movie so there clearly is a way," Cummings wrote, referring to Stanley starring in The Hangover Part III in 2013.
In another update, Cummings requested, "I would like to see what a vet recommended and what the evacuation plan for him was when there's a fire." Additionally, the comedian suggested getting an exotic animal veterinarian out to the property ASAP "who can tell us that keeping [the animals] there for now is the best move."
Cummings wasn't the only one giving Malibu Winery the side-eye. PETA Senior VP Lisa Lange told TMZ, "It is unconscionable for any facility that keeps animals under lock and key not to have an emergency plan that allows for their immediate evacuation when one is called for." PETA claimed they would also be investigating animal conditions and reports of unaccounted for animals at the winery. A rep for the winery told TMZ they followed all proper protocols.
Cummings' last update on the situation, shared Monday night, stated that an external vet was with Stanley the giraffe and confirmed he is okay.
"I'm not sure about the rest [of the animals] or if they should still move...I always forget that the internet is a mine field and the game of telephone can make matters worse," she wrote. "We are now just focusing on people and animals that are not okay."
Meanwhile, the winery has denied the claims.
In a statement provided by a veterinarian on their web site, Malibu Wines shared that the animals were "wide open central area that is contained with many fenced off pastures. This wide open area has no trees or brush, but consists of short grass, dirt, and a lake area. This barren enclosure has little to no 'fuel' to power a fire or facilitate the spread of one."