The majority of the exotic animals seized this year by federal agents from a park made infamous by the “Tiger King” docu-series now reside in Colorado.
Pat Craig, executive director of the Wild Animal Sanctuary in Keenesburg, said that since January, his facility has taken in 50 animals from the Tiger King Park in Thackerville, Okla. That includes 10 tiger cubs with four mothers that were seized in January, and 36 adult lions, tigers and liligers — a hybrid lion and liger — that were seized this month.
The Wild Animal Sanctuary was already home to 39 tigers and three bears previously moved from Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park, which was owned by Joseph Maldonado-Passage, a.k.a. Joe Exotic, who starred in Netflix’ “Tiger King.” The Colorado sanctuary was in charge of physically removing all of the animals seized in this most recent raid, including ones that went to other sanctuaries, Craig said.
Sixty-eight big cats total were seized in May, according to NPR.
RELATED: Where are the tigers from “Tiger King” now? Many of them live in Colorado, just 45 minutes from Denver.
Tiger King Park is owned by Jeff and Lauren Lowe, who were featured in the namesake documentary. Jeff Lowe was put in charge of Maldonado-Passage’s exotic animal park after the owner was sentenced to 22 years in prison for his role in a murder-for-hire plot. The park was eventually closed — under disputed circumstances, according to Men’s Health — and Lowe announced plans for a new one in Thackerville, near the border of Oklahoma and Texas.
According to NPR, the Justice Department sued the Lowes in November for allegedly violating the Endangered Species Act and the Animal Welfare Act. The couple is accused of exhibiting the animals without a license and failing to adequately care for them.
An affidavit said, “inspectors found that the animals were receiving a nutritionally deficient diet, inadequate and untimely veterinary care, and insufficient shelter from the weather” during welfare checks conducted since December of 2020, NPR reported.
Located on a 789-acre tract of land in Weld County, the Wild Animal Sanctuary is a nonprofit organization that began housing animals rescued from Maldonado-Passage’s Oklahoma compound as early as 2017. The company also operates the Wild Animal Refuge on more than 9,600 acres in Springfield, Colo. and a Wild Animal Sanctuary on 41 acres in Boyd, Texas.
The company currently cares for more than 650 lions, tigers, bears and wolves, according to its website.
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