Authorities In Mexico Seize About 200 Big Cats And Other Animals, Sanctuary Owner Disputes Abuse Claims

Mexico City police serving warrants recently seized about 200 exotic animals including 177 lions from a sanctuary on the capital’s south side.

Authorities allege that the animals were abused and mistreated, but the sanctuary owner says videos of the raid were “out of context” and that the sanctuary was rescuing animals and most were healthy.

close up portrait of lion
Lion numbers in the wild are declining but thousands are in captivity including lions bred for slaughter Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

The raids took place at Black Jaguar White Tiger Sanctuary. On the sanctuary website its operator, Eduardo Serio, says the sanctuary is dedicated to rescuing abused animals. Serio says that most of the animals were rescued starting in 2015 after Mexico banned animal acts and a great number of animal attractions closed.

The raid was conducted after The Attorney General’s Office for Environmental Protection obtained a warrant and Mexico City police conducted the raid. Authorities said the sanctuary was not operating on land sanctioned for animal sanctuary use and that the animals – lions, tigers, jaguars, lynxes servals and others – were abused. The animals allegedly were dehydrated and ill, some unable to walk.

close up photography of tiger
Despite some recent gains there are probably only 5,000 tigers left in the wild. Perhaps twice as many live in the Unites States in zoos, sanctuaries and private hands. Photo by GEORGE DESIPRIS on Pexels.com

Serio disputed the allegations. He was quoted in Englands’s Daily Mail:

“Eduardo Serio, the founder of the reserve, told local media that he had rescued rsome of the animals from some of the 500 circus venues in the country after the government outlawed their use in shows in 2015.

At least 90 to 95 percent of the animals were at their weight limits, he said, but the ones that were highlighted in the videos ‘which look scared, were animals that we were trying to rescue, (the videos) were taken out of context.’

leopard on brown log
Some jaguars were seized in the Mexico City raid. Native to Mexico there are efforts to strengthen their numbers and hopes they will return to Arizona. Photo by Flickr on Pexels.com

‘Yes, some (were malnourished), others have collapsed due to genetic problems because their kidneys no longer function, they have diabetes, things like that and we try our best,’ Serio added. ‘The time comes that sometimes we (are able to treat them), but we are not God, sometimes we make it through and sometimes we don’t. When we can’t, we have no choice but to give him a dignified death.’

Serio also said donations to the sanctuary had fallen off more than 70 percent due to Covid 19 and that impacted the care the animals received. It appears Serio had applied for the paperwork necessary to run the shelter legally.

A total of 202 animals were removed from the site, and most were transported to zoo facilities in Mexico. Bobbi Brink, the founder of Lions, Tigers and Bears sanctuary near San Diego says Mexican facilities will be overwhelmed by the size of the rescue and is calling for the cats and other animals to be brought to the US to live at accredited rescue facilities such as hers.

The American Sanctuary Association accredits sanctuaries in the US which number in the hundreds.

One such sanctuary is The Wild Animal Sanctuary (TWAS) which operates 10,000 acres in Colorado and Texas. TWAS was recently involved in saving sun bears from the bile trade and many animals from Joe Exotic.

Published by ursusrising

long time writer and editor living in Los Angeles

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