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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2014

    Colorado Animal Sanctuary Euthanizes All Its Animals After It’s Denied Permit To Move

    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.”

    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.

    The Wild Animal Sanctuary in Kennsburg, Colorado, said it would have taken in the animals if asked.
    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 that needed homes. “They could have easily called.”

    Craig’s 720-acre facility, whose website boasts that it hosts more than 400 animals, including tigers, bears, lions, leopards and wolves, it has taken in from around the world.

    In February, the group took in five big cats and two bears from a zoo in Argentina. Craig said they also recently received 27 animals from South Dakota.

    An attempt to reach the Lion’s Gate owners for comment was not successful.

    A statement published to Lion’s Gate’s Facebook page on Thursday argued that the animals could not be moved because they were “too old and many had disabilities and special needs.” The sanctuary denied that they resorted to killing the animals because of the county commissioners, even though they had previously described the animals as the county’s victims.

    Instead, they said they euthanized the animals because they were old and “many had disabilities and special needs” that prevented them from being moved. It was no longer safe for the animals or for the public for them to be at their current location, they wrote.

    Cathy Bosier, who said she has volunteered at Lion’s Gate Sanctuary for the last year and a half, said the owners are no longer talking to the media, but described them as devastated by the animals’ deaths, which she called a “last resort.”

    “They felt their hands were forced. They were backed into a corner and their hands were forced,” she told HuffPost on Wednesday. “Everything else was tried and this was the last thing.”

    Asked if the commissioners knew that euthanasia was their last resort, she answered: “Yeah, pretty much.”

    Bosier said the facility reached out to a neighboring sanctuary for help but the animals’ old age prevented their move. She described the animals as around 20 years of age.

    “The move to a larger sanctuary would have killed them,” she said.

    This lion named Kiara was relocated to The Wild Animal Sanctuary park in 2011. She was one of 25 lions that were rescued from traveling circuses in Bolivia.
    Addressing Craig’s facility, she said: “There’s no way they’re equipped to care for these animals with special needs.”

    Craig denied this claim.

    “We locate older animals,” he said. “The age has no factor.”

    Craig suggested that the reasons behind the animals’ euthanasia are deeper than they appear.

    A 2006 report by the Denver Post highlighted Winney’s previous legal trouble involving wild animals, including “allegations of smuggling cats” and other documentation and licensing issues. Craig said the owners’ inability to get additional licenses for their sanctuary prohibited them from acquiring additional means of funding.

    “It severely restricted what they could do,” he said.

    The Wild Animal Sanctuary in Keenesburg, Colorado, boasts 720 acres and hundreds of animals.
    Wilcox, the county chairman, noted that this was the second time the facility had requested this move. The previous one, in 2006, was also denied.

    This time around, Wilcox said, the owners cited flooding issues as a way to be considered for a special-use permit. He called the flooding concerns “questionable,” however.

    “We went out to look at the site prior to the hearing. We went out and looked at all the issues surrounding it, looked at the fencing, looked at the topography,” he said. “The research that we did brought up a lot of issues and concerns.”

    According to the Denver Post, residents around the current location had complained for years about safety and noise issues related to the facility.

    One neighbor told local Denver station ABC 7 that when the lions roared the whole ground shook.

    “It’s so loud,” Rick Blotter said, adding that he was sad about the news of the animals’ death. “I’m devastated, it’s terrible. But it’s their animals, they have to do what they can to make things meet and if they can’t make it work, I hope they tried to find a place for them.”
    You can fool some of the people some of the time; But guess what? The Bus Stops Here (Life No Parole/ Don't Pass Go: Don't Collect Your $200)

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2014
    This is the sanctuary’s response to the unlawful kill and accusations of the decision to euthanize these animals.

    IMAGINE THAT... PEOPLE JUMPING TO CONCLUSIONS BEFORE THEY KNOW THE FACTS. It’s amazing that these sanctuaries and other people act like they know our animals better than we do. People act as if 10 years of taking care of these beautiful creatures meant nothing to us. Shame on all of you. It’s easy to criticize and judge people when you haven’t walked in their shoes.
    Fact #1. We want to be clear we did not put our animals down because we were denied by the Elbert County Commissioners. We put our animals down because it was NO LONGER SAFE FOR THEM AND NO LONGER SAFE FOR THE PUBLIC. This was made abundantly clear to the Elbert County Commissioners. The commissioners were not concerned with the safety of residents around the Sanctuary only the residents at the re-location site.
    Fact #2. People have criticized us for not trying to place our animals. Our animals could not be placed in another sanctuary. There are many reasons why.
    We were a small facility and all our animals had one-on-one attention. We were not open to the public. Our animals were used to solitude and only having two people around for a period of 10 years. For example, when County Commissioners and Staff came out to see our habitats and discuss safety, our animals disappeared into their den houses to hide.
    The pictures you are seeing are not current. They honor our animals in their youth. Our animals could not be placed because they were too old and many had disabilities and special needs. From the time we put the re-location application in until the time we were denied (approximately one year), we lost six of our animals to various age-related medical conditions. In terms of disabilities for example, we had a 20 year old lioness that was blind. Her habitat was set up so she knew where everything was. She knew our voices so we could guide her to come to us at feeding time. All of these 11 animals had stories just like hers.
    Since these animals have not been around people, to think at this age they would adjust to another facility is ludicrous. To put that level of stress on senior and disabled animals several things would have occurred. They likely would have become depressed, hide in their den houses or develop symptoms of stress like pacing back and forth constantly and rubbing themselves right down to the bone. In most cases the stress would have killed them. If you think that animals should live like that, you should get your head examined.
    Other sanctuaries can dispute this, but we, and only we, knew these animals and what was best for them. It’s not our egos, it’s 40 years of collective experience and 10 years caring for these particular animals. Other sanctuaries that think they know better are grandstanding for the publicity. People will always find something on the internet to back up their unfounded opinions.
    04/27/17 Joan and Peter
    You can fool some of the people some of the time; But guess what? The Bus Stops Here (Life No Parole/ Don't Pass Go: Don't Collect Your $200)

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
    I'm afraid to read this Dex. Is it going to upset me?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2014
    Quote Originally Posted by bluesneakers View Post
    I'm afraid to read this Dex. Is it going to upset me?
    Well they said that the animals were disabled and couldn't be given to the other sanctuaries. So I don't know.

    You can fool some of the people some of the time; But guess what? The Bus Stops Here (Life No Parole/ Don't Pass Go: Don't Collect Your $200)

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2014
    Last edited by DexterMorgan; 04-29-2017 at 09:20 PM.
    You can fool some of the people some of the time; But guess what? The Bus Stops Here (Life No Parole/ Don't Pass Go: Don't Collect Your $200)

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