TAMPA (FOX 13) - Big Cat Rescue welcomed seven exotic cats Monday morning from a troubled facility in South Dakota.
The facility, Spirit of the Hills Wildlife Sanctuary, recently had its USDA license revoked after a routine inspection. As a result, they are surrendering their exotic cats and other exotic animals to several wildlife facilities around the country. Big Cat Rescue opened its doors to take in the animals, along with wildlife sanctuaries in Colorado and Arizona.
Big Cat Rescue agreed to take in 7 cats - 4 bobcats, 2 cougars and 1 leopard.
A spokesperson for Big Cat Rescue said, "We have limited information about these cats. It has been reported they may have suffered neglect. Big Cat Rescue's vets will evaluate the cats once they get to our sanctuary. We also don't know their ages, gender or how long they have been at Spirit of the Hills."
On September 28, a routine surprise USDA inspection of the South Dakota facility reportedly found issues affecting the exotic cats that were significant enough to warrant their removal from the sanctuary.
But as the facility prepared to transfer the animals for their move on October 3, tragedy struck. One of the tigers got loose and mauled the sanctuary's director. The tiger had escaped his enclosure through an open gate, and deputies shot him when he tried to escape the property.