A group from GW Zoo took in several tigers and bears on Saturday afternoon after the animals' owners decided they could no longer provide adequate care.
The group led by Kelci Saffery, who lost part of her arm when a tiger bit her at the zoo, took in two tigers, two bears and two bear cubs. Saffery said the owner of the animals contacted GW Zoo and asked for help.
"He was responsible enough to admit that he just can't do it on his own anymore," she explained. "It's all about giving the animal a better option."
The zoo has come under fire in the past from some animal rights groups, but Saffery told News 9 that the work she does at the park is important because they take in many animals from private owners who cannot properly care for them.
"I'm doing what's best for them," said Saffery. "They can't return to the wild because of something we did, because we put them in captivity at one point and when I say we, I mean the human populations in general."
The group took a look at the animals when they first arrived at the proper near Luther, Okla. Saffery said the tigers are very thin. That was a sign the big cats needed more care than they were getting.
The retrieval effort gets underway once the group devised a plan to safely remove the animals from their small pens and into holding crates for transportation. After an hour and a half, with a lot of improvising, all of the animals were safely in the trailers and ready to head to their new home. Final paperwork sealed the deal.
Saffery said that the animals would visit with a veterinarian once they got to GW Zoo in Wynnewood. A vet there would examine the animals and make a plan to ensure there are not major health concerns. Saffery was confident that the animals would all return to full health with proper nutrition and vet care.
As the group prepared to leave, there was one young bear that was not loaded up. Saffery advised the owners to move the bear to the largest pen on the property and said they would be back to retrieve the bear down the road.
"Unfortunately we are unable to take this one. We would love to give her a home, it's just right now it's not in our budget. But as soon as we raise the money and we can get her enclosure, then we'll come back for her because we hate leaving her."
The owner of the animals told News 9 that he knew he could not properly care for the animals for some time, but it was hard to make that call for help.