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 wild 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.
When commissioners denied Lion’s Gate’s request to relocate to a less flood-prone area, Lion’s Gate admitted 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,” said Pat Craig with the Wild Animal Sanctuary.
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.
See also April 30, 2017: “Captive Wild Animals euthanized after location permit denied”