The Lion's Gate Animal Sanctuary in Colorado has come under intense criticism after it euthanized 11 animals. The sanctuary claims it had to euthanize the animals due to a denied permit, but other sanctuary owners say the move was shortsighted, cruel and unnecessary.
The sanctuary humanely euthanized three lions, three tigers and five bears on April 20, according to the Coloradoan. A statement from the sanctuary's owners said the property had flooded numerous times, preventing the owners from providing quality care for the animals as long as the sanctuary was located in that spot.
Because of the constant threat of floods, the owners sought a relocation permit request to build a new sanctuary outside the floodplain.
When the permit was denied, and with no way to care for the animals, the sanctuary's owners said they were compelled to make the decision to euthanize the animals.
After flooding on the property threatened the lives of the animals and the sanctuary itself, they felt the euthanasia was necessary because they had "no other option."
Many other animal sanctuaries around the nation have criticized the move. The New York Daily News reports that Minnesota's Wildcat Sanctuary called the decision "selfish" with "nothing to do with the welfare of the animas."
The owners claimed to have reached out to several other animal sanctuaries, but received no offers because of the animals' advanced age. Officials noted that at least one animal center, the Keenesburg Wildlife Sanctuary "publicly offered to care for the animals at their facility if the Lion's Gate was unable to do so."
HuffPost reports that the request to move was denied because the new location was in a more urban and populated area, making the conditions unsafe. Officials also said the animal sanctuary never told the commissioners that they'd resort to killing the animals.
County Chairman Danny Wilcox, one of the three voting commissioners, said he asked the sanctuary's owners exactly what would happen to the animals if the move request was denied. He says he was assured they'd "continue to operate as they had for the last 10 years."
Pat Craig, owner of the Colorado Wild Animal Sanctuary, who offered to take in the animals, spoke to CBS News about the shocking move. "I've been in this business 37 years and don't know of anybody that just quietly euthanized their animals without trying to find homes first."
Craig called the event horrific and said that the owners had clearly lied about their motivations.