KEENESBURG, Colo., Dec. 7, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- Lambert the lion and Tasha Joy the tiger, the last wild animals at the former Saipan Zoo, left the island on Wednesday evening.
The pair of big cats landed in Denver, Colorado later Wednesday evening and were transported to The Wild Animal Sanctuary near Keenesburg, CO.
Zoo owner Frank Aldan said he had been looking for a new home for the two 15-year old animals since the zoo was destroyed by Typhoon Soudelor in Aug. 2015. The zoo has been closed since then. "What was left of the zoo was not fit for animals like them," he added.
After an exchange of communications with the non-profit sanctuary staff, Aldan said he decided to send the lion and the tiger to Colorado.
Samaritan's Purse, which has its own DC-8 cargo plane, offered to transport the animals to the wildlife sanctuary in Colorado.
An evangelical Christian humanitarian organization, Samaritan's Purse brought relief supplies to Saipan and Tinian after the islands were hit by Typhoon Yutu.
"It breaks my heart to see them leave, but I know they will go to a place where they can socialize with their own kind," Aldan said in a phone interview, referring to Lambert and Tasha Joy.
"It is good that they can be in a sanctuary. Colorado's one of the largest in the U.S.," he added.
Aldan acquired the lion and the tiger from the Southern Comfort Ranch on Guam. The animals were two years old when the ranch was shut down.
"I took care of them since they were little, but they now need to find a better home. The sanctuary will be that home for them," he said.
Staff members from The Wild Animal Sanctuary traveled six days and 13,000 miles in order to rescue the big cats.
Casey Craig, Chief Operations Officer for the Sanctuary, reported the tiger and lion were severely malnourished, but now will be able to recover with proper nutrition and medical care.
"A bear and leopard had already perished at the zoo, so we were very grateful for this opportunity," said Craig.
U.S. based, Tigers In America, helped coordinate numerous parts of the rescue as well as funded thousands of pounds of fresh food and medical care for the cats over a number of days leading up to their transport. Organization President, William Nimmo, traveled with the rescue team in order to continue coordinating logistics along the route.
The Wild Animal Sanctuary specializes in rehabilitating large carnivores and providing them with large acreage habitats to live in.
Lions and Tigers can live up to 23 years in captivity, so at 15 years of age, Lambert and Tasha Joy will have the opportunity to join others of their own species and roam freely during the remaining years of their lives.
ABOUT THE WILD ANIMAL SANCTUARY
A 789-acre refuge for more than 450 lions, tigers, bears, wolves and other carnivores rescued from abusive situations.
SOURCE The Wild Animal Sanctuary