If you ever needed another reason to believe that our world grows a little darker each day, this is a good one. A wild animal sanctuary in Colorado has euthanized all its animals after a relocation dispute.
The Lion’s Gate Sanctuary put down its three lions, three tigers and five bears on April 20 after local county commissioners denied their request to move about 20 miles from its site southeast of Denver. The sanctuary owner and local psychologist, Dr. Joan Laub, said that she had “no other option” as the site had repeatedly flooded over the past two years–making it impossible for them to care for the animals properly.
The Elbert County Commissioners said that they were “shocked” and “saddened” by the decision after the sanctuary’s owners had promised to continue to care for the animals at the center if their proposal was turned down. “The decision by the operators of Lion’s Gate to euthanize all their animals comes as total surprise,” they said in an official statement.
“Only two weeks earlier, the operators of the facility assured the County in a public forum that if the application was denied, they would still continue to operate at their current location as they had for the previous 10 years.”
Laub, however, vehemently denies ever giving such an assurance, calling the statement a “blatant lie”. In a statement to an online publication, Laub stressed “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 relocation site.”
The commissioners added that the nearby Keenesburg Wildlife Sanctuary, which is home to 450 animals, had publicly offered to care for the animals at their facility if Lion’s Gate was unable to do so.
The founder and executive director of Keenesberg park, Pat Craig, mentioned that Lion’s Gate had so few animals that “they would easily be able to place every animal with another wildlife sanctuary”. This comes along with his surprised reaction that the owners of Lion’s Gate did not try to find a new home for their animals.
“Given these facts, the news that Lion’s Gate euthanized all 11 animals at the same time and so shortly after the decision to deny the move comes as an absolute shock” the county commissioners added.
Dr. Laub argued that she was not able to move the animals–some of which were endangered–to another sanctuary because they were already old and vulnerable. “We did think long and hard about relocating these animals,” she said “However, due to their ages and disabilities, they would not have survived a move to a new facility. Our vet agreed to this.”
Given this information, it is unclear why she would have asked to have the animals relocated to begin with. The Colorado Parks and Wildlife official Facebook page says that their purpose was to “rescue and protect exotic animals” but said that the sanctuary owners are within their legal rights to work with their vets to decide when to put down animals.
All 11 animals have since been buried since being euthanized.