Lions, tigers and drug lords: Refuge for abandoned wild pets

Lions, tigers and drug lords: Refuge for abandoned wild pets

Wed, 18 Nov 2009 10:59 a.m.

Exotic animals that once belonged to Colombia’s drug-traffickers are finding refuge no matter how close to death the creatures may be.
Police deliver the wild animals to Ana Julia Torres after raids on drug-traffickers’ large country estates.

Ever since Pablo Escobar used National Geographic magazine as if it were a catalogue to choose his next pet, it has been the fashion among drug barons to own ferocious animals.

One tiger had to be forcibly taken off the steady diet of human flesh he had become accustomed to.

Rumbero the lion once belonged to young drug-traffickers in the northwest of Colombia. He was brought out at parties where he was fed cocaine, ecstasy, and marijuana.

Vets who examined him believe he suffered irreversible brain damage from the drugs, giving him a spaced out look.

In contrast to the animals’ former wealthy owners, Torres runs the refuge on her teacher’s salary.

The refuge she founded 15 years ago is tens of thousands of pounds in debt.

To feed the lions and tigers, Torres relies on nearby farms alerting her to the passing away of work horses which she will then collect.

Despite the mounting bills, Torres says she will find a way to struggle through.

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