HomeAnimal RescueFour Ailing Big Cats Saved From Defunct Roadside Zoo In Oklahoma

Four Ailing Big Cats Saved From Defunct Roadside Zoo In Oklahoma

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.



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  1. Joe Exotic is human garbage. May he rot in hell as the other animal abusers.
    Hope the big cats enjoy the rest of their lives.

  2. I’m so glad these big beauties were saved, and although their traumas cannot be erased, hopefully they are able to enjoy their new facilities. The owners and all associations of any such places should be hunted down in fear and fed to their victims. That’s justice, and ensures them not repeating such atrocities. STUPID people attend such attractions but you can’t fix stupid. Sadly stupid is on the rise!!!

  3. Thank God good People alerted Big Cat orgs — we all know they’re MISERABLE in any ZOO — thank God such Sancutaries exist for these majestic Animals who should NEVER have been pulled out of their natural haitats in the first place — we MUST ensure they get good health and happiness — THANK YOU

  4. I’m so glad someone spoke up in behalf of these poor animals and they were rescued. More people need to be the voices of exploited animals!

  5. The US government MUST STOP allowing these animals to be bred and sold . Rescue’s cannot keep up with the #’s coming in and the money needed to help them. Take these assets that these people have made from these poor creatures……

  6. I am not a 100% fan of zoos but I have to appreciate them taking in these tigers. The ones they bring in are already in captivity and the Oakland Zoo is surely a much better place for them. I am very pleased these tigers are out of the hellhole they were in and thank the Oakland Zoo from rescuing them.

  7. Yes Joe Exotic did have contact with the zoo in OK. I live in Joplin MO and I once saw Joe at Northpark mall selling pictures with 6 week old tiger cubs. This was several years ago and I cannot believe it’s taken this long to rescue these poor cats. At least they didn’t end up like poor Tony the Tiger in Louisiana. They have a chance for a better life something Tony never got.

  8. Thankfully someone took it upon themselves to rescue these poor animals. I don’t know how anyone can just abandon animals like this. Would love to take the assholes responsible for this to the most isolated,inhospitable part of the world and abandon them and give them a taste of their own medicine.




  10. Thank you for saving these beautiful big cats from deplorable conditions. I’m grateful to to the OK resident for speaking out for them and getting them help.

  11. The “tiger king” and his many cohorts all need to be imprisoned and the keys thrown away. They take innocent lives, abuse innocent living beings, and in the case of this perp, tried to have a rescuer of sterling reputation killed. None of these criminals deserves to see the light of day again. Tragically, many of the bona fide sanctuaries are forced to close in these dire economic times, and as a result, many of the innocent animals they would otherwise shelter and care for have no safe haven. Get educated, people, and HELP where you can. Never patronize any roadside zoo, cub petting enterprise, or other exploiting venue.

  12. So happy that they are being brought to safety where they can be taken care of properly. I cannot imagine just abandoning an animal.


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