Mexican Government Backs Out of Relocating the Tigers of Cancun

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Mexican Government Backs Out of Relocating the Tigers of Cancun

[Ed. Note: See our action alert, Save the Cancun Tigers]

By Sharon Seltzer
September 2009

Three animal welfare groups thought they had reached an agreement with the Mexican government for the rescue and relocation of 7 abused tigers. The tigers live in appalling conditions at Pepe’s restaurant in Cancun. Now, just when the tigers were about to be flown to safety, the Mexican government has backed out of the plan.

Last Chance for Animals (LCA), The Wild Animal Sanctuary (TWAS) and Gente Por La Defensa Animal (GEPDA) have been talking with Mexican officials since August 2008, trying to negotiate the release of the 7 tigers. They would like to see them transferred to TWAS’ 320-acre facility in Colorado where they can live in a natural habitat and receive better care.

The tigers currently live in concrete and steel cages at Pepe’s restaurant and were originally used to entertain customers visiting the Cancun attraction. Then in 2005 Hurricane Wilma hit the coastal town and destroyed the restaurant. Pepe was not financially able to rebuild the cages and has let the animals languish in an unsafe environment with stagnant water, very little food and often sitting in their own urine and feces. In a video filmed on the premises, Pepe is shown feeding the tigers contaminated food that they begrudgingly eat because of their extreme hunger. One female tiger is sick and drags her back leg behind her, but has yet to receive medical care.

The three rescue groups thought they had finally struck a deal with the Mexican government. Pepe’s permits were revoked and the tigers were approved to be transported to Colorado in early September. However, on September 3rd officials called off the mission – apparently due to legal proceedings over the tigers.

LCA, TWAS and GEPDA made one more effort on September 15th urging the Mexican government to approve the relocation plan. They carried with them petitions from the public – both in Mexico and the United States.

However, Mexican officials would not budge and are now considering moving the tigers to several different holding facilities near Mexico City until the court case has finished. The rescue groups expressed their outrage at this proposal and explained that separating the animals would traumatize them and add to their suffering.

They offered to transport the tigers on the spot. They worried that the tigers could be held in temporary cages for years, while a court case played out.

But government officials rejected any plan from the three animal welfare groups and sent them home.

In a press release sent out this week, LCA, TWAS and GEPDA stated - They are continuing their campaign to convince the Mexican government to reinstate the original rescue and are asking the public to contact US and Mexican Officials and urge them to bring swift resolution to the desperate plight of the Cancun Tigers who are in dire need of medical attention. For more information on how to help, please go to Save The Cancun Tigers (Video Included).