Authorities began transporting 177 lions, tigers, jaguars, and other exotic big cats discovered at an animal rescue center in the mountains on Mexico City’s south side on Wednesday.
The federal Attorney General’s Office for Environmental Protection reported that 202 animals, including monkeys, dogs, donkeys, and coyotes, were being relocated.
After images of rail-thin, distressed, and injured lions circulated on social media, dozens of heavily armed city police raided the “Black Jaguar White Tiger” animal sanctuary on Tuesday.
The reserve’s founder told local media that he had rescued some of the creatures and that some of them had arrived in poor condition.
“It all began with a worker who had recently been laid off, and he had a lot of video evidence showing abused animals,” Association of Zoos President Ernesto Zazueta told Reuters.
“We tried to approach (the sanctuary’s) area in the back, where you can see animals down to their bones, with mange, maimed, some of them had their tails cut out, some with bugs.”
According to Mexico City Police Chief Omar Garcia Harfuch, the property was seized “for the crime of improper use of property and animal mistreatment.”