Shalom Wildlife Sanctuary has been cited with a critical violation of the Animal Welfare Act after two tiger cubs drowned in an icy pond in November 2022. The roadside zoo continues to profit off of the tragic deaths.
Shalom Wildlife Sanctuary is a roadside zoo in West Bend, Wisconsin, owned by David and Lana Fechter.
The Fechters’ started up a shoddy tiger breeding operation in March 2021. That month, a white tiger named Ginger gave birth to two cubs that were found dead in the enclosure.
White tigers should never be bred because they’re inbred and are known to have genetic issues. The Fechters posted photos of Gingers’ two dead cubs on social media. The post was shared more than 700 times.
Shortly after the cubs were found dead, the Fechters announced that they would continue trying to breed Ginger with their other tiger, named Goliath.
When no cubs were produced, Shalom Wildlife Sanctuary obtained two female tiger cubs from Animal Haven Zoo in Weyauwega, Wisconsin. The cubs, named Sugar and Spice, were taken from their mother and illegally transported when they were only 14 days old, a violation of federal regulations which prohibit the transport of cubs under 28 days old.
In April 2022, Shalom Wildlife Sanctuary obtained an adult male tiger named Jonah from Animal Haven Zoo, to breed with Ginger. A few months later, the Fechters euthanized Goliath.
Two days after Goliath was euthanized, Ginger gave birth to a litter of five cubs on Aug. 6, who were sired by Jonah. Less than a week later, one of the cubs disappeared. The missing cub has never been located and is presumed dead.
In Wisconsin, temperatures routinely drop below freezing, with a cold season that lasts about three months. The four surviving cubs were allowed access to a large enclosure with a pond. The pond partially froze on the evening of Nov. 18 when temperatures dropped to 19°F.
Early the next morning a white cub named Nina was located dead in the den, possibly moved there by Ginger. A golden tabby cub named Khan was found dead in the icy pond.
USDA records indicate Shalom Wildlife Sanctuary’s veterinarian stated hypothermic shock likely led to the cubs’ drowning. A USDA inspector noted the climatic conditions played a role in the cubs’ deaths.
Although the Fechters’ negligence in allowing the cubs unsupervised access to the icy pond may have contributed to Nina and Khans' deaths, Shalom Wildlife Sanctuary created a GoFundMe fundraiser to profit off of the tragedy, which has brought in more than $16,000 for the roadside zoo.
The two surviving cubs, Charlotte and King, continue to be at risk under the Fechters’ care. Recent photos and videos show that Shalom Wildlife Sanctuary is providing the cubs with toys intended for domestic dogs, which are not suitable for tigers.
If the cubs were to ingest parts of the stuffing, rope or rubber from the toys, it could be detrimental to their health.
A newly released report indicates the USDA has now cited Shalom Wildlife Sanctuary with a critical violation for Nina and Khan's drowning deaths.
The report notes the zoo must take appropriate action to alleviate the impact of climatic conditions, such as preventing access to water features during winter.
“Ensure corrective actions are maintained to protect animals from unsafe conditions,” the USDA wrote in the violation report.