Colorado’s Wild Animal Sanctuary Takes in 35 Big Cats Seized from Tiger King’s Jeff Lowe
The dozens of big cats recently seized from Jeff and Lauren Lowe’s Tiger King Park in Thackerville, Oklahoma are now under the care of various wild animal sanctuaries.
Nearly three dozen wild cats have moved into Colorado's Wild Animal Sanctuary following a federal investigation of the felines' former owners, Tiger King's Jeff and Lauren Lowe, and their Oklahoma zoo.
According to a press release from the Department of Justice (DOJ), the couple, who appeared in Netflix's popular docu-series Tiger King, was accused of violating the Endangered Species Act (ESA) after an investigation found instances of animal mistreatment at their Tiger King Park in Thackerville, Oklahoma.
Last week, prosecutors said authorities seized "68 protected lions, tigers, lion-tiger hybrids, and a jaguar" from the property. Now, 35 of those wild cats have relocated to the Wild Animal Sanctuary in Keenesburg, Colorado.
Pat Craig, the sanctuary's owner, told CBS4 that the authorities brought 14 of the animals — mostly mothers and cubs who required immediate attention — to the facility in January. He also said Wild Animal Sanctuary has been working with the DOJ throughout their investigation into Tiger King Park and is prepared to help in any way.
"We've known more than a month ago this was going to happen," Craig told the outlet on Sunday. "We have a refuge that's 9,000 acres. So we have the room."
"We feel great. Obviously we were concerned for the animals' welfare. We've been doing this for 41 years, so we're confident we can provide a good home for these animals," he continued.
A San Diego sanctuary acquired two other big cats from the recent seizure at Jeff Lowe's zoo. Lions Tigers & Bears — San Diego's only accredited big cat and bear sanctuary — took in two female tigers. The tigers will undergo a mandatory 30-day quarantine and will be treated by the organization's veterinary team before being released into the sanctuary.
"I was honored to bring a team to Oklahoma to assist with this significant animal rescue operation," said Lions Tigers & Bears' founder Bobbi Brink in a release. "With several accredited sanctuary teams working together with the federal officials, it was an efficient and seamless operation. Our priority was relocating these big cats to accredited sanctuaries where they will receive proper veterinary care, diet, shelter, and habitats while the court decides what's next."
Due to the ongoing DOJ investigation, the current health and condition of the seized animals cannot be revealed by either organization.
Since December 2020, officials have conducted three inspections of Tiger King Park, during which the Lowes "received citations for failing to provide the animals with adequate or timely veterinary care, appropriate nutrition, and shelter that protects them from inclement weather and is of sufficient size to allow them to engage in normal behavior," the Justice Department said.
In a statement to PEOPLE, Walter Mosley, Jeff Lowe's attorney, said, "Jeff tells me to share with you to 'watch Tiger King 2 for the real story, not the story made up by a corrupt DOJ.' " There's no word yet if another season of Tiger King is on the way.