” uncovers the rescue of hundreds of animals from a troubled Puerto Rico zoo” – Video

” uncovers the rescue of hundreds of animals from a troubled Puerto Rico zoo” – Video

The video “How hundreds of animals were rescued from a troubled Puerto Rico zoo | 60 Minutes” tells the extraordinary story of Pat Craig, the founder of the Wild Animal Sanctuary in Colorado, and his efforts to rescue over 300 animals from the Dr. Juan A. Rivero Zoo in Puerto Rico.

The zoo had faced years of decline, mismanagement, and neglect, resulting in substandard conditions and mistreatment of the animals. After hurricanes Irma and Maria ravaged the island, the situation became desperate for the animals. The US Department of Justice intervened and enlisted Pat Craig to orchestrate the high-stakes rescue operation.

Over the course of 5 months, Craig and his team used patience, sedation, and creative tactics to coax the animals into custom-built crates for their transport to sanctuaries across the US. The video shows the challenges and resistance faced by the rescue team, including sabotage attempts and limited cooperation from local staff.

The emotional and logistical toll of the rescue mission is evident, but ultimately, the animals were safely transported to their new homes. Craig and his team took many of the rescued animals back to their 1200-acre facility in Colorado. The sanctuary now houses over 700 animals, each with a unique tale of woe and a hopeful future in their new environment. The story is a testament to the dedication and compassion of those who work tirelessly to rescue and care for animals in need.

Watch the video by 60 Minutes

Video Transcript

And low Before the Flood the Lord said to Noah make yourself an ark bring out every kind of living creature that was the Old Testament but what happens today when disaster threatens animals a powerful force a zoo a foreign government even the US Department of Justice often calls from on high and

Enlists the services of one man Pat Craig founder of the wild animal sanctuary in Colorado who’s emerged as the go-to guy for orchestrating high stakes rescues around the world last spring we accompanied this modern-day Noah to a zoo in Puerto Rico for his most ambitious Mission yet the story will continue in a

Moment these lions were once literally the pride of Puerto Rico housed at the Dr Wan Rivero zoo in the coastal town of mayz the only zoo on the island but after years of Decline mismanagement and neglect this was the Tableau that greeted Pat Craig and his wife Monica

When they arrived here from Colorado what was your impression when you got to the zoo for the first time the animals were very very sad looking and some of them were very very sick I felt physically and emotionally overwhelmed and even while we were there animals

Died almost on a weekly basis corre so that felt even worse because we’re present mhm and yet we were there too late over the course of a decade the US Department of Agriculture cited the zoo two dozen times for substandard conditions and animal mistreatment after hurricanes Irma and

Maria ravaged the island the Zoo closed to the public in 2018 for the more than 300 winged scaled and four-legged residents still captive the situation turned from bad to downright desperate we saw zebra that had a horrible wound on her leg and her tail and she couldn’t

Stand up we saw a pig that had a skin condition her skin was just falling apart a mountain lion’s untreated cancer had been allowed to spread all over its body seeing the mountain lion suffering the way that he was that broke my heart and not being able

To sorry yeah help him yeah it was just so evident that this facility was Way Beyond repair the US Department of Justice which enforces Federal Animal Welfare laws in the states in Puerto Rico agreed and in February staged an extraordinary intervention sending a battalion of agents to the zoo to evacuate every

Single species to permanent homes on the mainland to lead this mission to Captain this Arc as it were the doj tapped wild animal sanctuary founder Pat Craig we were there in April to witness the operation equal parts Military style Logistics in Battlefield extraction among the targets Seven Lions

Sweltering in a concrete bunker and they never hooked up the power after the hurricane they never hooked up the power to the zoo never wait wait there’s a zoo that’s functioning with animals there and there’s no power there’s no electricity and then if you look at the pictures from the inside of their

Building you know it’s the old steel bars just like jail cells while in a row when it came time to coax the cats out of their cages Craig entered the Lions de The Gather of the Lions weren’t necessarily happy to see you and go with you what happened they’re definitely

Defensive because they don’t know who we are and what we’re doing and why and so we show up and we’re like believe me you got to trust me we’re trying to help you here the sweet talking didn’t work so they deployed Plan B sedation hard to watch but accepted practice when rescuing uncooperative

Carnivores over the course of 5 months Craig and his team of 20 used patience proding Pursuit good boy and grape jelly to lure each animal into its custombuilt crate a camel a kangaroo a rhinoceros these stubborn hippos Monica Craig a native Spanish speaker had hoped to coordinate with the local staff but

The team from Colorado mostly had to go It Alone she says the zookeepers in Puerto Rico often refuse to help we tried many many days to communicate with them and trying to tell them hey we’re not bad people we’re just trying to do what we’re supposed to be doing for

These animals and give them a better home what was the response they were upset they were like no I don’t think I don’t think that’s right the animals belong here it was a sentiment shared by many in the community and at times resistance curdled into outright sabotage the rescue team had nearly wrangled

Mundy once a star attraction into her transport crate when suddenly out of nowhere this elephant just flies up tears out of there starts running around what do you think happened well I think somebody shot with a BB gun if if you ask me and hit her in the rear end hit

Her in the rear end just to make her hate that crate y now she thinks that crate did something to her we reached out to Puerto Rico’s Department of Natural and environmental resources which is responsible for the zoo in a statement it said the animals were provided with Comprehensive Care and

Denied there was any neglect blaming problems at the zoo on hurricane damage limited resources and aging animals once the transport was finally ready a police escort to the airport then the animals were loaded one by one onto charter flights Bound for New Homes Craig had arranged its sanctuaries

Across the US how do you ferry to safety an 8,000 th000 lb elephant like Mundy on a 747 cargo jet of course departure brought a sigh of relief when she took off I cried cuz I said thank you God she’s in is over she’s out of here there’s no question

About it anymore Pat and Monica Craig took as many of the rescues as they could back to their 1200 acre facility a vast Menagerie roams the grassy enclosures on the high plains of Eastern Colorado each of the 700 plus animals here came with a sad backstory wagging

Their own Tales of Woe as it were Tigers kept in garages as pets Lions saved from a zoo in war torn Ukraine Bears abused at a Korean medical facility now 64 Craig got the idea for the place as a teenager in the 1970s when a friend who

Worked at a zoo gave him a tour behind the scenes there were all these animals lions and tigers that were in small cages and he said these will be euthanized and I thought wow this is crazy you know these are healthy not they’re not old they’re not sick Craig

Decided right then and there to open his own Sanctuary on his parents small Colorado farm with few regulations to guide him he built the animal enclosures himself and scoured biology books for pointers did you have any experience with lions and tigers no none you have degree in Zoology no I was just starting

College back then it was going to be a business degree and he quickly learned that lions and tigers are no house cats in the early years I was in the hospital more times than you could count he was like okay don’t do that again and you

Know just so all those years of making mistakes and not getting killed What specifically does a mistake look like uh pretty bad I’ve had my left arm almost completely torn off I’ve had bit through the chest and collapsed lungs the animals Craig can handle but on his missions to hostile environments around

The world it’s the people he often needs extra help managing heavily armed Federal Marshals accompanied Craig when the Department of Justice dispatched him to retrieve maltreated big cats that had been kept by the notorious Tiger King Joe Exotic the unlikely Netflix sensation and his associates these two were among the 141

Animals Craig liberated and brought back here what kind of conditions was Joe Exotic keeping these guys in in Oklahoma well you know it was just all these really small cages that were just in you know line after line cuz it was a gigantic breeding operation primarily let’s go the rescue missions in the

Sanctuary operate on an annual budget of $34 million funding comes mostly from private donations When Animals arrive here this is often their first stop designed to minimize Shock by mimicking the conditions they came from here they’re evaluated and given a treatment plan whether it’s medication or emergency surgery Craig and staff veterinarian Dr

Michaela vets introduced us to Chad and maloi both rescued from Puerto Rico how confident do we feel about our locks here confident this guy wants to get out she says yeah this guy’s ready to hang out with us they suffer from permanent neurological damage likely caused by malnutrition something Craig could spot

Just by looking you see how she keeps doing that but really she just doesn’t have a control over it head tilting at an angle yeah we’ve had literally hundreds of lions that have come through that have had that kind of problem this before oh yeah the sanctuary devises a

Special diet for each animal which requires 100,000 lbs of food per week mainly donated by nearby Walmarts occasional cupcakes included when we met him Mikey the bear another Asylum Seeker from Puerto Rico was midway through his rehab right now he’s in his lockout just so we can medically manage him what did

You see the first time you saw him um he was in a great deal of pain very gingerly moving we assume he’s got you know a great deal of arthritis which we’ve provided medications for and now he’s getting around like almost like a young bear nursing animals like Mikey

Back to physical health is one thing ministering to their emotional wounds is often a bigger challenge having been raised in captivity many of the animals arrive with what amounts to severe PTSD and they must be taught to trust the humans caring for them they’re already mad at people anyway because of

Whatever people had done I had one tiger years ago that anytime you came near you want to hit the fence and kill you what’s the timetable for trying to ease some of the trauma these animals have been through you know some were beaten some were starved some were mentally

Tormented to a degree you know and um so every case is different so some of them will do it in a matter of days some will be a few weeks doesn’t that story imply however traumatic this may have been it’s not irreversible it’s not irreversible the goal of all this rehab

Is to to get these wild animals to act the part remember Mundy at the zoo she had zero contact with other elephants for more than 30 years we accompanied Craig on a visit to a refuge in Georgia where he placed Mundy under the care of conservationist Carol Buckley this marked the first time

Craig and the Elephant had seen each other since Puerto Rico what do you notice well first thing she just looks so much healthier and just her demeanor is so much calmer and nicer every day when I would go see her in the zoo I just God it just hurt and then now to

See this is just amazing just truly amazing hey pretty lady Buckley provides the care and feeding but happily admits Mundy’s real mentors are the other elephants here you’re just the inkeeper you’re just a chef hey I just open and close doors and make sure the waters are

Running you know and the other elephant knows what they need to learn and they’re instructing them it’s fantastic it is exactly the same as what happens in the wild that’s the same principle Craig employs at his sanctuary and after 2 months of rehab the lions from PTO Rico were ready to

Enter their permanent habitat all right Robert’s going to open the door we were on hand for the release No One quite knew what to expect not least the Lions you can go yeah the first was reticent but one by one this must just be literally lifechanging they started

To venture out enclosed for their safety and ours but otherwise in a vast ocean of green these guys have been in captivity their whole lives this is the first yeah this will be the first time ever that they’ve been able to either run or live in a big space like this

Even have deep grass makes you feel good yeah absolutely this is why we do this there were a few scuffles but for Pat Craig that’s exactly what he’d hoped for Lions acting like well Lions the animals come to the Sanctuary from all over the world but in this unlikely

Setting here silhouetted by the Rockies in eastern Colorado they find more than just Sanctuary they finally find a home a look at life after Tiger King you have to learn a lot of it what it’s like to be a tiger at 60 minutes overtime.com

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Video “How hundreds of animals were rescued from a troubled Puerto Rico zoo | 60 Minutes” was uploaded on 01/30/2024 to Youtube Channel 60 Minutes