AGATE, Colo. (CBS4) – Federal and local authorities are investigating whether the Lion’s Gate Sanctuary in Elbert County violated laws last month when it euthanized all 11 of its animals.
Special agents at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are working with the Elbert County Sheriff’s Office to find out what happened.
The investigation into Lion’s Gate Sanctuary came two weeks after it euthanized five bears and six lions and tigers.
Lions Gate’s owners had asked Elbert County commissioners to approve its request to move to a less flood-prone area.
“We decided that Mother Nature wins and we’re not going to argue with her anymore. It makes more sense to move to a better location,” Lion’s Gate owner Joan Laub said.
When commissioners denied that request, Lion’s Gate said its animals paid the price. But it also said the animals were too old and frail to survive a 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,” Pat Craig with the Wild Animal Sanctuary in Keenesburg said.
The Wild Animal Sanctuary is located less than two hours away and Craig says he would have been willing to help.
“The option was so blatantly right there in their backyard — to have somebody like us take them. I think that’s probably what confuses most people,” he said.
The plan to move locations faced resistance from neighbors. Commissioners denied the move due to safety concerns and say they were never under the impression if they denied the request the animals would be euthanized.
Once the investigation is complete federal and county prosecutors will decide whether charges are needed.