Four Ailing Big Cats Saved From Defunct Roadside Zoo In Oklahoma
Published: June 13, 2022 at 09:23 PM Author: Penny Eims
A coordinated rescue effort between California’s Oakland Zoo, Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge in Eureka Springs, AR, and Lions, Tigers, and Bears in Alpine, CA, led to the removal of four big cats from a defunct roadside zoo in Oklahoma.
According to a release from the Oakland Zoo, an elderly, arthritic lion that required immediate medical attention, a tiger hybrid in “poor condition,” with a badly infected tooth, and two “lean” tigers, were secured from the abandoned roadside attraction on June 10.
The Oakland Zoo headed up the rescue effort after being contacted for help by a concerned Oklahoma resident last month. Nik Dehejia, CEO, Oakland Zoo, said:
“For the past thirty years, we’ve fully committed Oakland Zoo’s tiger habitat as a sanctuary for tigers victimized by the circus, roadside zoo, private ownership, and cub-petting industries. Those tigers need help, and we can provide that help while educating the public about the dangers of animal exploitation practiced in those industries. When a concerned Oklahoma resident called us to help these big cats, who have endured so much suffering, there was no question that we would step in and give them the homes and care they deserve, at Oakland Zoo and our partnering sanctuaries, for the remainder of their lives.”
Tanya Smith, President and Founder of Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge, added:
“These big cats were living in small, filthy enclosures. Shelter was provided but was terribly weathered and rotten. Aside from some good Samaritans, they were left alone, fed inconsistently, and needed veterinary care. We’re so relieved to provide new homes to these animals and help them thrive.”
Bobbi Brink, founder and director of Lions Tigers & Bears, commented on the cruelty of the cub petting industry:
“There are major red flags that show these animals were victims of the cub petting industry. These cats were declawed and in poor health and living conditions. Most likely, they were bred to be photo props, and once they grew too big and couldn’t be profitable, they were abandoned. We’re the animals’ voices, and we need to work toward education and legislation, because each animal rescued makes a difference.”
The defunct roadside zoo and its owner reportedly had ties to “Tiger King” star, Joe Exotic.