Tigers in deplorable conditions at Tiger Rescue in Colton, Calif.
The State seized control of Tiger Rescue and 54 remaining big cats. Weinhart was later convicted on animal cruelty charges and child endangerment for keeping tranquilizers and live alligators within reach of his young son. He received two years in county jail (with 204 days credit for time served) and five years of probation; he is barred from keeping animals.
In the meantime, it was up to animal protection organizations to clean up Weinhart's mess and tend to the ailing tigers. The Fund for Animals, which had been authorized to care for the animals, found homes for 15 tigers – leaving 39 cats in need of refuge. Sanctuaries around the country were at or near capacity, and most zoos did not want tigers of unknown genetic origin.
"The scene at Tiger Rescue was horrific," recalls PAWS president and co-founder Ed Stewart. "There were so many sick, injured and neglected tigers that needed intensive care, rehabilitation and a permanent, healthy home. PAWS just had to step up and help these animals."
PAWS committed to taking the remaining 39 tigers, but first had to construct a specially designed facility that provided grass, trees, swimming pools and room to roam. Transport of the tigers took place over an eight-month period, with six 400-mile journeys to PAWS' 2300-acre captive wildlife sanctuary, ARK 2000, in San Andreas, Calif.