Feds: Jacko's Animals Not Mistreated

The giraffes and other exotic animals Michael Jackson has kept at his Neverland Ranch are not being mistreated, federal officials have concluded.

The Department of Agriculture sent an inspector to the 2,600-acre ranch in Central California last month in response to a complaint from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. PETA based its complaint on European tabloid reports that animals were being kept in substandard conditions.

"I'm unaware of any violations of the Animal Welfare Act at Neverland," Darby Holladay, a spokesman with the USDA in Washington, said Tuesday.

Along with giraffes, Jackson's ranch has been home to elephants, snakes, orangutans, tigers and a crocodile.

Jackson, 47, has been living in the Persian Gulf nation of Bahrain since shortly after being acquitted of child molestation charges last year.

Brian Oxman, a lawyer for the pop star, welcomed the USDA's determination. "That's very nice and we appreciate it," he said.

Lisa Wathne, PETA's specialist on captive exotic animals, said the group plans to file a similar complaint with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service because African elephants and orangutans are protected under the federal Endangered Species Act.