Federal wildlife officials investigating euthanization case at animal sanctuary

ELBERT COUNTY, Colo. -- Federal officials along with the Elbert County Sheriff's Office are investigating the euthanizing of 11 tigers, lions and bears at an animal sanctuary in April.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the sheriff's office released a statement Saturday saying they were working together on the investigation into what happened last month at the Lions Gate Animal Sanctuary near Agate.

"Special agents from the Service are working closely with investigators from the sheriff’s office to determine whether violations did or did not occur," the statement said.

Operators of the animal sanctuary euthanized three lions, three tigers and five bears. They said it was a result of flooding concerns and after the county board of commissioners denied a relocation permit.

Co-owner Joan Laub said it was done because flooding on the property made it unsafe for the animals and the public.

Some people in the community called the decision "barbaric and cold."

"Once the investigation is complete, both agencies will work with their respective federal and county prosecutors to determine what, if any, action is appropriate," the statement said.