An animal sanctuary in Colorado recently euthanized three lions, three tigers, and five bears after they were denied a permit request to move the sanctuary to a location with less flooding.
Lion’s Gate Sanctuary, located near Agate, Colorado, had previously suffered from multiple floods over the past couple of years, according to a statement by the sanctuary’s co-owner, Dr. Joan Laub, as reported by 9News. In the statement, Laub said that the repeated threat of floods prevented the staff from providing adequate care for the sanctuary’s animals.
Laub and her partner, Peter Winney, had requested a special permit to relocate the sanctuary to a different location, one with less flooding, but their request was denied by the Elbert County Board of Commissioners. The new location would have been on a 45-acre property, however, the board of commissioners had a number of concerns with the new sanctuary location. For one, they were not wholly convinced by the sanctuary’s emergency plan, and they were also concerned about the number of residential properties near the area. Laub and her team felt as if they had “no other option” except to put the animals down.
Although sanctuary staff assured the public that the animals were all elderly and that they “would have finalized an emergency plan if their application received approval,” residents in the homes surrounding the proposed new sanctuary locations were still concerned about the animals escaping.
According to an article by HuffPost, staff at the Lion’s Gate Sanctuary blamed the animals’ deaths on the board of commissions for denying the sanctuary’s request for relocation, calling the animals “Victims of Elbert County Commissioners.” The actions of the sanctuary staff have resulted in threats, not only to the commissioners but also to the grandchildren of County Chairman Danny Wilcox, one of the three voting commissioners.
Wilcox told HuffPost that the sanctuary’s actions left the commissioner shocked. Wilcox said that the sanctuary owners told him the sanctuary would “continue to operate as they had for the last 10 years” when asked what would become of the animals if the sanctuary’s request for relocation was denied.
“They believe that we made them euthanize the animals. That’s the story that’s evidently being told and we did not do that. In fact, we verified that the animals would continue to live.”
A spokeswoman for Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Jennifer Churchill, said that actions such as those taken by the Lion’s Gate Sanctuary were unheard of in Colorado.
“This has never happened before in our state,” she said.
Two other animal sanctuaries had reportedly contacted the county and expressed interest in caring for the animals if the Lion’s Gate Sanctuary’s request was denied. One of the sanctuaries has not yet been identified, however, the second one has been.
The Kennesburg Wild Animal Sanctuary, located only 70 miles away from the Lion’s Gate Sanctuary, said that they would have been glad to take the animals.
“Eleven is pretty small,” Pat Craig, the person in charge of the Kennesburg Wild Animal Sanctuary, told HuffPost. “They could have easily called.”
Craig also addressed the Lion’s Gate Sanctuary’s concerns that the animals were “too old to be moved” by stating the Kennesburg Wild Animal Sanctuary had taken in older animals in the past and that they were well equipped to care for them.
Although it appears as if the Lion’s Gate Sanctuary did have other options, the staff at the sanctuary felt as if they had none. They claimed to have taken no joy in euthanizing their animals, calling it a “last resort.” They seem to be devastated by the loss of their animals.
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