Police caught more than 200 lions, tigers, jaguars and other animals

Authorities began removing 177 lions, tigers, jaguars and other exotic big cats found at an animal rescue center in the mountains on the south side of Mexico City on Wednesday.

The federal attorney general’s office for environmental protection said a total of 202 animals, including monkeys, dogs, donkeys and coyotes, are being moved to other locations.

Dozens of heavily armed city police raided the “Black Jaguar White Tiger” animal sanctuary on Tuesday after photos of rail-thin, distressed and wounded lions circulated on social media.

The founder of the reserve told local media that he had rescued some of the animals and that some of them were in critical condition.

“It all started with a worker who was recently laid off and had a lot of video evidence showing animals misbehaving,” Ernesto Zazueta, president of the Association of Zoos, told Reuters. “We tried to get to the back (of the sanctuary) area, where you can see the animals in very bad conditions – animals under their bones, with mange, lame, some of them biting their tails, some with worms.”

Mexico City Police Chief Omar García Harfuch said the property was seized “for the offense of improper use of property and mistreatment of animals”.

City police said in a statement that “according to inspection, the property in which the animals were kept is for agricultural or grazing purposes, and not for the keeping of a species of animal.”

Under Mexican law, private individuals can register to keep exotic cats and other animals in supervised wildlife management units. It looks like the facility raided on Tuesday has done this kind of paperwork.

But animal rights advocacy group PETA called the site a “false sanctuary,” saying it had been complaining for years that the facility had engaged in abusive practices.

PETA said lions, tigers and jaguars were kept in relatively small enclosures, sometimes with more than one animal per enclosure, and also forced them to interact with humans for “selfies” or videos. used to go.

The Association of Zoos, Breeders and Aquariums of Mexico said its members would volunteer to care for the animals.

But members of Mexican drug cartels keep big cats illegally and the country’s 2015 ban on animal acts in circuses has contributed to the saturation of animal shelters and rescue facilities.

“Many of our facilities are already full of wild animals from various rescues, from circuses to hundreds of illegal smuggling seizures,” Zazueta said. “But we cannot allow these animals, many of which are endangered, to continue in these pathetic health conditions and malnutrition.”

Zazueta said some monkeys and three lions could be taken to Mexico City zoos on Wednesday and that on Thursday there were plans to send 50 animals to zoos west of the capital and in the northern states of Guanajuato and Sinaloa.

The animals were in “a terrible condition”, he said. “Some of their tails are missing, they have been eaten. Others lack eyes, ears. They are very thin, dehydrated.”

The founder of the refuge has said that donations to the reserve have decreased during the coronavirus pandemic.

Mexican narcissists have long had a fascination with exotic animals.

Last month, a spider Monkey dressed as drug gang’s mascot shot and killed After a gunfight. pictures from the scene Encounter With police in Texcaltitlan that killed 11 drug gang members, a small monkey – wearing a short camouflage jacket and a small “bullet-proof” vest – stretched across the body of a dead gunman, apparently But he was the owner.

Also in June, a 450-pound tiger roamed the streets in the Pacific Coast state of Nayarit, and a man died after trying to domesticate a captive tiger in a cartel-dominated area in western Michoacan state.

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