Henry County

‘They’re still lying:’ State senator wants controversial Noah’s Ark Animal Sanctuary investigated

HENRY COUNTY, Ga. — State Senator Emmanuel Jones says the walls are closing in on a controversial animal sanctuary in Henry County.

“Even in this moment, they’re still lying about what they’re doing,” he said.

This week Sen. Jones called on Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr to launch an investigation into the Noah’s Ark Animal Sanctuary.

“It’s far worse than what the public can even ever imagine,” Jones told Channel 2′s Ashli Lincoln.

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Jones spoke exclusively to Channel 2 Action News about recent citations issued against Noah’s Ark. Documents Channel 2 Action News obtained show at least nine court summons stemming from citations given to sanctuary President Shelly Lackly for bite incidents and animal neglect allegations.

Noah’s Ark acknowledged they did report a bite that happened in May. A potential donor was bitten by a monkey after placing her hand on a cage.

For more than a year, Noah’s Ark Animal Sanctuary has been the center of controversy.

The facility had to shut down for several months after a bird flu outbreak in 2022.

We also reported in May that dozens of hooved animals were removed from the facility.

“It’s a false narrative, it’s based on lies,” said President Shelly Lackly.


Lackly sat down with Channel 2 Action News earlier this year to dispel rumors of animal neglect.

“The keep staff that we have now are top notched. We have seven keepers that’s their entire job, focusing on the animals, then we have maintenance staff that can help with that, that’s double than what we’ve had in the past,” she said.

Henry County solicitor Pam Bettis says her office, along with the State Department of Natural Resources, are aggressively investigating recent incidents.

Bettis told Channel 2 Action News in a statement, “We are going to do a thorough investigation, when we gather all of the facts and evidence we will apply facts and evidence to the applicable law.”

Lincoln reached out to Attorney General Chris Carr. A spokesperson sent a statement saying,

“We take all allegations of animal cruelty very seriously. We are supportive of efforts by law enforcement agencies which have jurisdiction and work to address these concerns.”

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Noah’s Ark Animal Sanctuary’s also shared a lengthy statement that read:

Unfortunately, the Senator’s letter appears to include false or inaccurate information and is another example of the Senator accepting one side of an issue without engaging the other side to provide all of his constituents a voice. For instance, the letter does not mention that Noah’s Ark was cleared to reopen by federal, state and county agencies several months ago, as reported by the Henry Herald, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Saporta Report and other news outlets. The letter inaccurately describes a May 6 incident that our team proactively reported to the county as part of our safety protocols, through which we cooperated fully with the county’s review of the incident. The letter also states claims about our president that are completely false.

We would like to know why Senator Jones has not been in contact with Noah’s Ark since his conversation with our president last August. Since that conversation the Senator has enjoyed, but not yet accepted, an open invitation to tour Noah’s Ark to see firsthand the tremendous progress made -- if he is genuinely interested in creating a viable future for the sanctuary in his district, should we not expect this elected leader to actively engage all sides and invest his time to visit Noah’s Ark in person?

We feel it’s time for the Senator to stop dredging up issues that were resolved months ago and instead engage with the current Noah’s Ark team with an open mind for the evolution and future of what Noah’s Ark will become — a better place to continue our vital mission of providing a safe haven for animals in need. Instead, the Senator’s letter is another misleading distraction from this mission.

We welcome a visit from Attorney General Chris Carr to learn about and share our progress with his team. And we encourage anyone to follow our progress online via Baloo and Friends, our Facebook page named for and featuring the animals in our care.

With regard to Daisy, the donkey that was recently at Noah’s Ark: We categorically deny that Daisy was in poor condition or mistreated. Up until the removal by Henry County Animal Control, this special-needs donkey was receiving the very best possible care, including a well-visit check-up by our attending vet the day before her removal. Daisy had also recently been seen by a farrier. Noah’s Ark is working with Animal Control to find Daisy a permanent home to address her specific needs. Additionally, we will continue working in a positive manner and collaboratively with all of our oversight organizations.

—  Noah's Ark Animal Sanctuary