Photo ops with baby tigers, leopard at Illinois mall

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G.W. Exotics is not an accredited sanctuary. Accredited sanctuaries do not allow the public to have direct contact with animals. Click here to learn more about the standards for accredited sanctuaries.

You saw what at the mall?

By Paul Newton, The Southern | Posted: Thursday, December 17, 2009 1:00 am

For the fifth consecutive holiday season, shoppers will be joined by tigers, monkeys and other exotic animals at Illinois Centre in Marion.

Joe Schreibvogel, owner of G.W. Exotic Animal Sanctuary in Wynnewood, Okla., will have a white tiger, four orange tigers, a black leopard, a red kangaroo, a spider monkey and a baboon in the Williamson County mall through Dec. 27.

Schreibvogel says that he’s hoping for a good holiday season in Marion, even though business has been rough for his company this year.

“We’ve been coming here for five years, and this has definitely been the worst year,” Schreibvogel said. “In 2009, our donations

at our park are down 80 percent and

donations on the road at shows … are down 40 percent.”

In addition to the lower monetary donations, Schreibvogel said his rough financial year has been expanded from the influx of animals he’s received. As different sanctuaries go out of business, they donate their animals to others. G.W. Exotic Animal Sanctuary has taken in more than 200 tigers in 2009.

People who wish to go to the display, which is directly outside Sears, can either get their picture taken with the animals or can go inside a cage and play with the baby tigers, black leopard or kangaroo youngsters. The cost is $25, which is tax-deductible. / 618-351-5083



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