ALPINE, CA--(Marketwired - November 15, 2016) - Lions Tigers & Bears (LTB) would like to express their deepest sympathy for the unfortunate circumstances that have taken place over the past five weeks at Spirit of the Hills Wildlife Sanctuary (SOTH) in Spearfish, South Dakota. Lions Tigers & Bears' founder, Bobbi Brink, was notified in early October that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) was planning to confiscate animals following a tiger escape and attack that resulted in injuries to SOTH's founder. Following the dangerous incident, as well as numerous USDA noncompliances (violations) against SOTH for concerns relating to animal care, SOTH agreed to surrender the animals as well as its USDA license to operate was revoked.
Brink and LTB sprang into action and within twenty-four hours of receiving notification of the situation, the LTB rescue team arrived in South Dakota from San Diego, Calif. LTB has been helping to transport and rehome animals from SOTH for over five weeks.
Over the course of the past five weeks while LTB has been working nonstop to move at least 225 animals, including tigers, bears, leopards, lions, cougars, bobcats, and servals, and has noticed numerous problems that likely contributed to SOTH's ultimate failure under its current management and leadership. LTB has deep concerns for the future of Spirit of the Hills. Revocation of a USDA license is permanent, and existing Animal Welfare Act regulations (9 C.F.R. §§ 2.9 and 2.10) provided that any person who has been or is an officer, agent, or employee of a licensee whose license has been revoked, and who was responsible for or participated in the violation, is ineligible to obtain a USDA license. Despite the foregoing provisions and the serious problems at SOTH that precipitated the USDA's action, SOTH's leadership has expressed interest in re-opening.
Ms. Brink states in her assessment, "This was nothing more than good intentions gone wrong at a facility that took in more animals than it could properly care for. Based on our observations over the past five weeks, Spirit of the Hills and its leadership appear not to have provided a sufficient number of adequately trained animal care staff, and the facility does not appear to have had sufficient resources, animal care, veterinary care, or adequate facilities. Spirit of the Hills possesses the passion, but passion alone is not sufficient to properly run a sanctuary housing complex and dangerous animals."
Lions Tigers & Bears, a Carole Noon Award-winning sanctuary accredited by the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries, has offered to step in and help steer SOTH into a positive direction. Unfortunately, SOTH's current board -- the same board in place while fundamental animal care and responsible non-profit management functions appear to have been neglected -- has declined to take LTB up on its offer. As an alternative option, LTB also urges SOTH to accept LTB's help to place the remaining animals in sanctuaries and to sell all SOTH assets -- including the sanctuary property -- and divide the proceeds among the sanctuaries that have stepped up to provide transport, medical care, staff, travel expenses, and the expensive responsibility of the lifetime care of the animals that have been displaced and have now lost the promise they had of a lifetime home at the sanctuary.
Lions Tigers & Bears believes it's time for SOTH to do the right thing for animals, and LTB's offer still stands.
About Lions Tigers & Bears
Lions Tigers & Bears (LTB) is a federally and state licensed non-profit 501(c)(3) rescue facility dedicated to providing a safe haven to abused and abandoned exotic animals while inspiring an educational forum to end the exotic animal trade. LTB is a NO KILL, NO BREED and NO SELL facility that allows the animals in its care the opportunity to live out their lives with dignity in a caring and safe environment. LTB is one of the few sanctuaries in the United States with the highest level of accreditation from the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries and the American Sanctuary Association.
For more information or to make a donation to help care for the animals at LTB, please visit www.LionsTigersAndBears.org or call (619) 659-8078.
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Embedded Video Available: https://lionstigersandbears.org/south-dakota-rescue-2016/
Embedded Video Available: http://www.blackhillsfox.com/content/news/USDA-releases-critical-report-on-Spirit-of-the-Hills-Wildlife-Sanctuary-399928101.html