After footage from a former employee at the Black Jaguar White Tiger Sanctuary in Mexico City reportedly showed malnourished big cats, the Mexican authorities shut the facility down. They will now undertake a complete investigation to determine the welfare needs of the animals, and it is possible that some of the animals may be taken to zoos in the Mexican capital.

The Animal Reader has reported that former employees said that tigers and lions were put down if they were too big for their cages and often died due to lack of food, water, and veterinary care.

The Association of Zoos, Breeders and Aquariums in Mexico (AZCARM) filed a complaint with the Attorney General and a lawsuit against the owner, businessman Eduardo Serio. AZCARM said the sanctuary was no longer licensed after the animals were moved from the originally approved location to a smaller space. Ernesto Zazuata, president of AZCARM, said “We want to have this place closed down. It’s operating underground, illegally sheltering lions, tigers, jaguars, pumas and monkeys. Plus, animals are abused.” 

Ironically, those representing the zoo industry have been portrayed in this story as the “good guys”, outraged about the conditions of the animals at this so-called sanctuary. The reality is that the zoos themselves have been promoting the idea of keeping wild animals in captivity for centuries, which has caused the existence of facilities such as this one. Anyone can try to imitate what zoos do and call themselves a sanctuary. Many establishments that keep wild animals in captivity, despite their name, are not genuine animal sanctuaries (especially if they are not run by vegans), but just disguised zoos with a PR spin to attract donations. Salvador Padilla, a legal representative for Black Jaguar White Tiger, said this is not the case in their facility: “This is not a zoo — let me be clear on that. People didn’t come to visit animals but to assist. Many animals come after being seized and from other complicated situations, and they come already injured or somehow harmed.”

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“Originally from Catalonia, but resident in the UK for several decades, Jordi is a vegan zoologist and author, who has been involved in different aspects of animal protection for many years. In addition to scientific research, he has worked mostly as an undercover investigator, animal welfare consultant, and animal protection campaigner. He has been an ethical vegan since 2002, and in 2020 he secured the legal protection of all ethical vegans in Great Britain from discrimination in a landmark employment tribunal case that was discussed all over the world. He is also the author of the book, ‘Ethical Vegan: a personal and political journey to change the world’.