The owners of Lions Gate Sanctuary in Elbert, Colorado say they were forced to euthanize all 11 “exotic” animals in their care after the Elbert County Board of Commissioners turned down a permit request that would have let them relocate within the county.
The owners, Joan Laub and Peter Winney, say that flooding concerns made keeping the sanctuary where it was impractical and would have put the animals at risk. But residents in the community of Elizabeth, where the new sanctuary would be located expressed concerns about having the animals so near so many family homes. They cited Laub’s lack of an emergency plan as a primary worry.
The news of the killings has sparked outrage among animal rights activists and the public alike. Wildlife sanctuaries from across the nation have condemned the mass euthanasia and say they would have taken some or all of the animals if only Laub and Winney had reached out for help. The owners of nearby The Wild Animal Sanctuary, for example, called it “very sad news” and “very unfortunate” that Laub and Winney “did not ask for help”.
Wildcat Sanctuary, which says it had rescued 5 big cats from Lions Gate in the past, was a bit more blunt in its criticism. “We’re in a state of shock,” the sanctuary said, saying it was “never contacted” by Laub or Winney. Euthanizing the animals was “a tragedy” and “a selfish move” that had “nothing to do with the welfare of the animals”. The sanctuary encouraged animal lovers to contact U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officer Steve Oberholtzer, who is the chief investigator in the area where Lions Gate Sanctuary is located.
So far, despite all the media attention, there is no word on any official investigation by any state or federal organization.