KEENESBURG, Colo. (CBS4) – A Colorado animal sanctuary is taking care of tigers and bears from the zoo featured in the popular Netflix series “Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness.” The Wild Animal Sanctuary in Keenesburg rescued the animals from the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park in Oklahoma, also known as G.W. Zoo.

(credit: Wild Animal Sanctuary)

“In 2017, we went on two different rescues to help get a total of 39 tigers and 3 black bears out of the facility,” said Becca Miceli, Chief Science and Animal Welfare Officer at the sanctuary.

According to its website, the Wild Animal Sanctuary has rescued more than 1,000 animals in its 39-year history. Miceli said many of the animals rescued from the G.W. Zoo have orthopedic issues related to poor nutrition and some needed to be neutered.

(credit: Wild Animal Sanctuary)

“They ranged in different conditions, I think the biggest thing is that they were all exploited to some degree,” said Miceli. “Whether it be for entertainment watching, a person play with them, for people to take selfies with.”

Joe Maldonado-Passage, also known as “Joe Exotic” used to run the G.W. Zoo until he was sentenced to 22 years in prison for his role in a murder-for-hire plot. Exotic is featured in the Tiger King series for his ongoing feud with Carole Baskin, the founder of a nonprofit big cat sanctuary in Florida.

(credit: Wild Animal Sanctuary)

“At first a lot of us were pretty apprehensive to watch it,” said Miceli about the Netflix series. “It will bring some light to this problem, I wish they had focused a little bit more on the animals rather than just on the characters.”

Jamie Leary