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Minnesota sanctuary takes in seized big cats from 'Tiger King' park

The Minnesota sanctuary's founder said the cats will get the care and nutrition they "desperately need and deserve."
Credit: The Wildcat Sanctuary
The Wildcat Sanctuary said this white tiger is one of the animals it is rescuing from Tiger King Park.

SANDSTONE, Minn. — A Minnesota sanctuary has taken in several lions, tigers and other big cats, all seized from a park connected to Netflix's infamous "Tiger King" documentary series. 

U.S. law enforcement seized nearly 70 big cats from Tiger King Park in Oklahoma -- a number that included lions, tigers, lion-tiger hybrids and one jaguar. 

Some of the cats went to The Wildcat Sanctuary in Sandstone, Minnesota. It says it is one of many accredited sanctuaries taking the cats in while the Department of Justice seeks forfeiture of the animals. 

According the the Associated Press, a civil complaint by the D.O.J. accuses the park's owners, Jeff and Lauren Lowe, of recurring inhumane treatment and improper handling of protected endangered animals. The couple has received numerous citations after three inspections of the Oklahoma park. 

The Lowes were featured prominently on Netflix's "Tiger King" alongside mullet-wearing zookeeper Joe Exotic. 

"Joe Exotic and Jeff Lowe ran slipshod operations and the chickens have come home to roost," Former Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson said. He said the seizure was one of many federal actions against an "unethical roadside zoo operator." 

According to its website, The Wildcat Sanctuary is a nonprofit that gives wild cats a natural habitat -- letting them live "wild at heart." It doesn't breed, buy, sell or exhibit animals. The sanctuary does not allow visitors, but it does offer virtual tours and volunteer programs. 

"Each cat has the opportunity, often for the first time in their lives, to choose a path to walk and a place to lie down," reads the sanctuary's website. 

The Wildcat Sanctuary said it has also offered to transport and provide a permanent home to any of the smaller wild cats that remain at Tiger King Park if needed. 

In a press release, the sanctuary's founder and Executive Director Tammy Thies called the seizure "historic and important." 

“The Endangered Species Act is a federal law designed to protect endangered animals and I, along with the entire accredited sanctuary community, am very relieved that these big cats will receive the care and nutrition they desperately need and deserve," Thies said.