Online petition raises concerns about Hellam Township ice cream shop’s animal menagerie

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A photo of a llama taken from the Jim Mack's Cones and Clubs website.

HELLAM TOWNSHIP, York County — Jim Mack’s Cones and Clubs is once again under fire from concern citizens alleging the caged animals on display at the business are being mistreated, but the owner says his animals are cared for daily and receive regular veterinary care.

The Hellam Township ice cream store and roadside attraction is the former home of Ricki, the black bear that was relinquished to a Colorado wildlife sanctuary in 2015 after protests were raised over the bear’s living conditions.

An online petition is asking the York County SPCA to investigate the condition of the animals on display at the business, which is located at 5745 Lincoln Highway.

York resident Bretina Greiman created the petition last week after visiting the business.


“For decades, Jim Mack’s has been home to an embarrassing roadside zoo,” the petition says.

After raising several concerns about the animals’ living conditions, the petition concludes “on behalf of the animals currently housed on the property at Jim Mack’s, and any animals that may be housed there in the future, we urge the PA Game Commission to revoke and/or deny renewal of any and all required licensure (menagerie or otherwise) from Jim Mack’s and demand that James McDaniel Jr., owner and proprieter, relinquish all animals to a sanctuary, rescue, or similar facility.”

Jim McDaniel, the owner of Jim Mack’s, says the animals at his business are well taken care of.

Visitors claim that the animals there have dirty water to drink from and a lack of food, but McDaniel claims their water is changed twice a day and they have plenty of food.

They’re fed all-stock feed, a dry-pellet food for mixed herds of farm animals.

The vending machines near the animal cages, which dispense small handfuls of kibble or corn for a quarter, are there so the public can feed the animals a snack.

“Little kids love to see the animals and to feed them,” McDaniel told a reporter for The York Dispatch.

The menagerie at Jim Mack’s features goats, a llama, four alpacas, a goose, two emus, rabbits, and a handful of peacocks.

Melissa Smith, executive director of the York County SPCA, confirmed to the Dispatch that their Humane Society police officer visited Jim Mack’s last week and that she gave him instructions on “water maintenance.”

The officer returned Wednesday and determined the situation had improved, according to Smith.

Smith declined further comment while the SPCA investigation is ongoing.

The Pennsylvania Game Commission had already been planning a routine inspection of the facility, press secretary Travis Lau said.

That’s because the ice cream shop’s state-required menagerie permit for its two emus will expire at the end of the month. Before the permit can be renewed, an inspection must be done to ensure McDaniel is complying with caging, health and sanitary requirements, Lau said. The game commission also oversaw McDaniel’s former permit for Ricki the bear.

Lau confirmed that over the years, Jim Mack’s has had some issues with permit compliance but said once those were pointed out, McDaniel fixed them.


McDaniel said his father built the ice cream shop and roadside attraction in 1958. He bought the business from his father in 1983, he said.

SOURCE: The York Dispatch