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Animal welfare called into question at Serenity Springs

By Mireya Garcia, Telemundo Anchor/NC13 Reporter, Twitter: @Mireya_G,
Published On: Jul 31 2013 07:12:35 PM CDT
Updated On: Jul 31 2013 07:24:04 PM CDT

PETA goes up against Serenity Springs

CALHAN, Colo. -

Is it despicable roadside zoo or a wild animal sanctuary?  It depends on who you ask. The Serenity Springs Big Cat Sanctuary is in Calhan and its request for a breeding permit is being challenged by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

PETA is harshly criticizing the facility's record in caring for the wild animals, and wants the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to deny Serenity Springs that breeding permit. It cites a history of violations pending against the facility as the reason.

Serenity Springs wants a permit to breed endangered animals. Owner Nick Sculac says they'd like to breed snow leopards because they're endangered.

"I just love what I am doing. I mean, there is no money in it, and we are doing it just because we love doing it,” says Sculac.

PETA points out the facility's record of mortalities - approximately one third of the animals there have died there over the past five years. It says that's one reason Serenity Springs should not be allowed to breed animals.

“The vast majority of these deaths were due to improper handling and, or denying vet care to animals who were suffering,” says Delcianna Winders, the director of Captive Animal Welfare Law Enforcement.

Serenity Springs refutes the accusations. It says its animals are well cared for - and that some of them were already sick when they got there.

“We are rated one of the top 6 sanctuaries in the United States. The zoo came down to look at us and said our animals are some of the healthiest they ever saw,” says Sculac.

PETA says if Serenity Springs does get its breeding permit it will consider legal action.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has filed multiple complaints against Serenity Springs for violating the Animal Welfare Act. Several include not providing proper vet care.

Serenity Springs expects to find out it is getting the permit at the end of August.