A Colorado community is in shock after an animal sanctuary battling housing problems resorted to euthanizing all 11 of its exotic animals, despite the county planning commission claiming other facilities had offered to take them in.
Lion’s Gate Animal Sanctuary in Agate announced in a statement last week that it had euthanized five bears, three lions and three tigers. The statement blamed the deaths on the Elbert County’s planning commission for refusing the sanctuary’s request to move to another site because of flooding.
“The flooding and resulting damage prevents us from reasonably continuing our operation and caring for our animals safely,” the organization had said in an earlier online petition for their move.
Facility owners Peter Winney and Joan Laub reasoned in their statement last week that they wouldn’t have had to euthanize the animals if the local government officials had not denied their request to move. They identified the animals killed as “Victims of Elbert County Commissioners.”
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Animal Sanctuary Euthanizes Lions, Tigers And Bears After Flooding Concerns
County Chairman Danny Wilcox, who was one of the three voting commissioners, said the new location the group chose was in a more urban and populated area, making the conditions unsafe for the general public. The animal sanctuary also never told the commissioners that they’d resort to killing the animals, he said.
“We were shocked,” he told HuffPost on Thursday of the sanctuary’s actions, which he said have resulted in people threatening him, the other commissioners and even his grandchildren.
Jennifer Churchill, a spokeswoman for Colorado Parks and Wildlife, described the sanctuary’s decision as unprecedented.
“This has never happened before in our state,” she told HuffPost.
Wilcox said the board pointedly asked the owners what would happen to the animals if their request to move was denied, and they said they’d “continue to operate as they had for the last 10 years.”
“They believe that we made them euthanize the animals. That’s the story that’s evidently being told and we did not do that,” he said. “In fact, we verified that the animals would continue to live.”
He added that two sanctuaries, which he declined to identify, contacted the county and offered to take in the animals if they could not be moved.
But in a press release, the county identified one of those facilities as the Wild Animal Sanctuary in Kennesburg, about 70 miles north of Lion’s Gate.
Pat Craig, who runs that sanctuary, said they “could have easily taken them.”
“Eleven is pretty small,” he told HuffPost Wednesday of the number of bears, tigers and lions…