Oakland Zoo, Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge, and Lions Tigers & Bears Come Together to Facilitate the Rescue of Four Big Cats from Oklahoma

The 4,000-mile rescue journey brings two tigers, a lion, and one tiger-hybrid to safety

SAN DIEGO, June 15, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — Four big cats will now live safe, dignified lives after they were rescued from a defunct drive-thru roadside zoo in northeast Oklahoma this past Friday. The AZA-accredited Oakland Zoo in Oakland, CA and the globally accredited big cat sanctuaries—Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge in Eureka Springs, AR and Lions Tigers & Bears in Alpine, CA—collaborated to rescue the two generic tigers, lion, and tiger hybrid from the Oklahoma facility that was once opened to the public and offered cub petting and photo opportunities.

The facility was cited and shut down by the USDA in 2008 after multiple safety and welfare violations. The four big cats rescued were the sole remaining animals at the abandoned facility. The roadside zoo and its owner were reported to have ties to “Joe Exotic,” also known in the well-known Netflix series as “Tiger King.”

The rescued animals, all female and declawed—a standard practice in the cub-petting industry—include:

  • An elderly, arthritic lion that required immediate medical attention and care, going to Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge
  • HAS hybrid tiger in poor condition with a facial wound and bowed legs, going to Oakland Zoo
  • two tigers housed in separate enclosures, both energetic but lean, one going to Oakland Zoo and one going to Lions Tigers & Bears

Members of each Rescue Team worked spent a long day working together to safely extract and transfer each big cat from their existing enclosures, which were dangerous habitats that were difficult to access. The team conducted on-site animal evaluations, led by a licensed veterinarian, for all four big cats, and then they were safely contained in their transfer cages for transport to their new homes.

Lions Tigers & Bears, Oakland Zoo, and Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge conducted on-site animal evaluations for all four big cats and Lions Tigers & Bears used its state-of-the-art, self-contained animal rescue hauler to transport three of the big cats to California. The team drove round the clock to make it to the Oakland Zoo over the weekend to offload two animals, and then arrived at the Alpine sanctuary early Monday morning its newest rescued tiger in tow.

Each facility will provide these big cats with a proper habitat enclosure, species-specific diets, veterinary care, and more, utilizing the highest standards of care as is required by the American Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries ( GFAS), a certification held by only the top sanctuaries in the nation that provide lifetime care for rescued animals, including Lions Tigers & Bears and Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge.

“There are major red flags that show these animals were victims of the cub petting industry,” said Bobbi Brink, Founder and Director of Lions Tigers & Bears. “These cats were declawed and in poor health and living conditions. They were likely bred to be photo props, and once they grew too big and were no longer profitable, they were abandoned. We are the animals’ voices, and we need to work toward education and legislation, because each animal rescued makes a difference.”

Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge, Lions Tigers & Bears and the Oakland Zoo encourages support for reputable animal sanctuaries and facilities and advocacy for the Big Cat Public Safety Act (HR 263), which places much-needed restrictions on big cat private ownership and contact with the audience.

“After living in dismal backyard cages, four big cats will now receive top-notch husbandry and veterinary care from the Oakland Zoo; Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge; and Lions Tigers & Bears,” said Brittany Peet, PETA Foundation deputy general counsel for captive animal law enforcement. “Thanks to these accredited facilities for this life-saving rescue, for advocating for the Big Cat Public Safety Act, and for setting an example for other reputable animal care facilities to follow.”

“Rescues take the collaborative effort and support of many to ensure the safety and well-being of the animals,” added Brink. “A special thanks to the Oakland Zoo for helping with transport costs, as we all know how expensive an undertaking this process is.”

ABOUT LIONS TIGERS & BEARS

Founded in 2002, Lions Tigers & Bears is a federally and state licensed 501(c)3 nonprofit rescue facility dedicated to providing a safe haven to abused and abandoned exotic animals while inspiring an educational forum to end the exotic animal trade. Lions Tigers & Bears is a NO CONTACT, NO KILL, NO BREED and NO SELL facility that allows the animals in its care the opportunity to live out their lives with dignity in a caring and safe environment. Lions Tigers & Bears is one of the few sanctuaries in the United States with the highest level of accreditation from the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries and the American Sanctuary Association. The exotic animal rescue nonprofit, led by Brink, has coordinated rescues for more than 1,000 big cats, bears, wolves and other exotic animals across the US in need of permanent refuge and lifetime homes at reputable sanctuaries, including Lions Tigers & Bears. Guests can book visits, become a member, host events or stay the night at White Oak Wild Nights, the onsite, private two-bedroom luxurious retreat. For more information, visit lionstigersandbears.org.

Media contact:
Olivia Stafford
[email protected]
619-840-6340

SOURCE Lions Tigers & Bears

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