In early August we reported on a raid conducted by Mexican police authorities backed by animal welfare groups on “Black Jaguar,White Tiger” (BJWT). BJWT advertised itself as an animal welfare organization, but persistent claims of abuse led to the raid. Raiders discovered as many as 200 animals, mostly lions and tigers. The animals were in varying stages of abuse, according to authorities.
The Wild Animal Sanctuary of Keenesburg, Colorado has been one of the animal rescue groups working to find homes for the animals, including 177 lions. According to the WAS fall 2022 newsletter. the solutions currently offered for the animals are not optimum. Mexican officials plan to place the animals in Mexican zoo, which are already overcrowded and may not have optimal conditions.
“Placing animals in zoos anywhere would be difficult,” WAS staffers wrote,”due to space limitations.” Mexican zoos tend to be smaller and many enclosures are outdated or otherwise questionable, WAS continued.
“We are continuing to offer help. however it may be needed.” the newsletter said. Our colleagues at the Invictus Foundation in Pachuca, Mexico are working directly with the officials in charge, so we hope to hear of a much better solution, soon,” WAS said. Fundacion Invictus is an animal welfare organization. It is separate from the Invictus Foundation which seeks to support brain injured persons and sponsors the Invictus Games. Invictus means “unconquered: in Latin.
WAS called BJWT founder Eduardo Serio “Mexico’s Tiger King” after the now-jailed Joe Exotic, whose criminal abuses have been covered here. According to WAS Serio discovered that he could purchase tiger and lion cubs. He allegedly began to play with them in videos on social media. His fanbase grew. He began to attract celebrity attention. Suddenly he had perhaps hundreds of cubs. Where they came from is unknown. Cubs in such situations grow quickly and soon are past bottle feeding and casual handling. WAS said the adults appear to have been banished to a secondary location. That was after they could no longer be safely handled by celebrities who visited BJWT.
WAS said Serio began small in 2013 but by this summer had reached an unsustainable point. He had so many animals he had difficultly feeding them. He may have fed them low quality chicken but WAS suspects he fed them stray dogs. Animal welfare agencies became suspicious, even sending drones over his large compounds. Although there were never dogs featured in his videos the compound had large kennels filled with animals. WAS said Mexico City has 20 million stray dogs. A mind-boggling number.
Finally, about two months ago the roof caved in for Serio.
Mexico City police served warrants in a raid on the sanctuary on the capital’s south side.
Authorities alleged that the animals were abused and mistreated, but the Serio said videos of the raid were “out of context” and that the sanctuary was rescuing animals and most were healthy.
The raids took place at Black Jaguar White Tiger Sanctuary. On the sanctuary website ,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.
WAS said that of the nearly 200 animals seized, about 80 still need relocation. Veterinary care has been given the animals since the raid. The remaining animals are under guard at the former BJWT site.
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.
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 some 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.’
‘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.
WAS said Serio has since stopped giving interviews and his wherabouts are unknown. e WAS said that millions adored the cubs when they were little. If they stepped forward with donations to legitimae rescue groups the situation would quickly resolve. they said.
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.