Animal sanctuary caring for 'Tiger King' cats worried amid coronavirus crisis

KEENESBURG, Colo. -- The future of the big cats featured in the hit Netflix docuseries "Tiger King" is now uncertain during the coronavirus crisis.

"Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness" is about Joseph Maldonado-Passage, also known as "Joe Exotic," a former Oklahoma zookeeper who loves guns and younger men but hates Carole Baskin, the owner of Big Cat Rescue in Tampa, Florida.

Passage was at the time under investigation by federal authorities and is currently behind bars serving a 22-year sentence for attempted murder for hire and wildlife violations, including killing 5 tigers.

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Nearly 40 tigers now live at the Wild Animal Sanctuary in Colorado after they were relocated from Joe Exotic's Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park in 2017.

Becca Miceli, deputy of the sanctuary, said the tigers are now healthy, but the coronavirus pandemic is taking its toll. With visitors quarantined at home, no donations mean less food for the animals.

"I'm very worried. This is the animal's livelihood ... Our food donations went down to almost 15% of what we normally get," she said.

She said feeding one tiger costs about $9,000 a year.

"We had to invest about $200,000 to $300,000 to buffer what we lost in terms of food donations ... and that's a pretty sizable amount," Miceli said.

The sanctuary hopes for donations and support so these animals can swim out their remaining days, enjoy the sun and live their lives.
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