The tiger cub death toll at Shalom Wildlife Sanctuary, a roadside zoo in West Bend, Wisconsin, has risen to five, after two endangered tiger cubs drowned in an icy pond on Nov. 19, 2022.
The facility is owned by David and Lana Fechter, who buy, sell and trade exotic animals with other roadside zoos. The Fechters have purchased exotic animals from notorious wild animal dealers, while misleading the public with false claims that the animals are “rescued” and that breeding tigers for a lifetime in a cage somehow helps endangered species.
Read more about Shalom Wildlife Sanctuary:
Roadside Zoo News wrote an article on May 20, 2022, predicting a terrible tragedy would occur as the Fechters try to create the next Tiger King-style roadside zoo in Wisconsin.
Since that article was published, four tigers have died at Shalom Wildlife Sanctuary, bringing the entire amount of dead tigers since March 2021 to 6.
The latest tragedy that occurred took the lives of a white cub named Nina and an orange cub named Khan. Nina and Khan were part of a litter of five cubs that were born on August 6, to a white tiger named Ginger and a Bengal tiger named Jonah.
On August 11, the Fechters noticed only four cubs were in the enclosure. Three days later, the Fetchers finally realized that the missing tiger cub was likely deceased.
The Fechters allowed the four surviving cubs, who were three-month-old, to have access to a large, deep pond. The pond froze when the temperature dropped to 19 degrees Fahrenheit in West Bend on Nov. 18.
That night, Nina and Khan wandered out on the pond and fell through the ice. Khan drowned and was found frozen in the icy pond. Nina was found dead in the den. The Fechters didn’t find the cubs until the next morning.
The cubs’ tragic deaths follows a number of tiger deaths at Shalom Wildlife Sanctuary. Just two days before the litter of cubs was born, the Fechters euthanized a tiger named Goliath, likely because they didn’t have room for him with the new cubs coming.
Goliath had “back, hip and leg health issues” but had successfully fathered a litter of two cubs with Ginger, that were found stillborn in March 2021. White tigers, including Ginger, are inbred and should never be bred because they are known to have genetic issues, with stillborn babies a common occurrence.
After the loss of Ginger’s two cubs, the Fechters continued trying to breed her with Goliath. When no cubs were produced, Shalom Wildlife Sanctuary obtained two female tiger cubs from Animal Haven Zoo in Weyauwega, Wisconsin, and announced the cubs, named Sugar and Spice, would be future mates for Goliath.
The cubs were taken from their mother and shipped to Shalom Wildlife Sanctuary when they were only 14 days old, a violation of federal regulations which prohibit the transport of cubs under 28 days of age.
The Fechters did not have a separate enclosure for Sugar and Spice and when it became apparent that they couldn’t keep them in the same enclosure as Goliath and Ginger, the two cubs were banished to a small chain link kennel entirely on concrete until Shalom Wildlife Sanctuary finally built them their own enclosure several months later.
In April 2022, Shalom Wildlife Sanctuary purchased an adult male tiger named Jonah from Animal Haven Zoo to breed with Ginger. When it became apparent that Jonah also couldn’t be put in the same enclosure as both Ginger and Goliath, Shalom Wildlife Sanctuary put Jonah and Ginger together to breed and banished Goliath to the same chain link kennel the cubs were formerly in.
With tiger cubs on the way, and not enough space for the tigers they already had, Goliath was euthanized on August 4. Jonah was then separated from Ginger and banished to the small chain link dog kennel in preparation for Ginger's upcoming delivery, where he remained for two months until Shalom Wildlife Sanctuary finally built him his own enclosure.
With the latest cub deaths, Ginger has now lost a total of five babies.
Roadside Zoo News has repeatedly reported the alarming activity occurring at Shalom Wildlife Sanctuary to no avail. We also reported the roadside zoo’s USDA inspector, Jessica Rivera, to the Office of the Inspector General for failing to adequately enforce regulations at facilities she inspects, and she was subsequently removed from inspections (read more).
With Rivera’s removal, the USDA brought in another inspector that Roadside Zoo News has been monitoring for failing to adequately perform her job duties, Inspector Dawn Barksdale. Barksdale has overlooked animal neglect at Settler’s Pond in Illinois (read more), and at Premier Exotics in Milwaukee, whose owner was caught on video hitting and choking African servals (read more).
After investigating Shalom Wildlife Sanctuary in July 2022, Barksdale cited the Fechters with two violations of the Animal Welfare Act for allowing the public to feed water buffalo, elk and deer with no employee or attendant present, and for allowing the public to bring in their own food to feed the animals.
Barksdale overlooked numerous complaints about the care and treatment of the animals, including video evidence of at least one zoo patron reaching into enclosures to pet bobcats and bears (read more).
The alarming tiger deaths and unsafe activities at Shalom Wildlife Sanctuary put both the public and the animals at risk.
Here’s how you can help
Submit a USDA complain by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Here is a suggestion of what to include in your complaint:
Dear USDA inspector,
Please immediately investigate Shalom Wildlife Sanctuary (License 35-C-0362) after two tiger cubs drowned and another cub disappeared and was never located.
Five tiger cubs were born at Shalom Wildlife Sanctuary on August 6, 2022. On August 11, 2022, the zoo owners, David and Lana Fechter, noticed only four cubs in the enclosures. The Fechters did not realize that the fifth cub was missing until August 14, three days later. It was never located.
On November 18, 2022, Shalom Wildlife Sanctuary allowed the four surviving tiger cubs to have access to a pond. The temperature dropped to 19 degrees Fahrenheit and the pond froze.
That night, two cubs identified as Nina and Khan, wandered out on the pond and fell through the ice. Khan drowned and was found frozen in the icy pond. Nina was found dead in the den, likely due to hypothermia. The zoo owners didn’t find the cubs until the next morning.
Please inspect Shalom Wildlife Sanctuary and exercise the USDA’s authority to enforce the Animal Welfare Act and hold this facility accountable for all violations occurring. Three endangered tiger cubs have now died and I’m urging the USDA to ensure that no more animals needlessly lose their lives.
Thank you for investigating this urgent matter.
You can also report USDA Inspector Dawn Barksdale for failing to investigate and enforce regulations. Click here to submit a USDA Office of the Inspector General complaint.