The owners of an animal sanctuary in Colorado that recently euthanized all of its animals claim they were forced to do so by the government.

Owners of the Lion’s Gate Sanctuary said they had to humanely euthanize three lions, three tigers and five bears in April after the Elbert County Board of Commissioners denied their request to move to a new location. Dr. Joan Laub and her partner Peter Winney wanted to build a sanctuary on a 45-acre property near Elizabeth instead, according to The Coloradoan.

The original property had endured multiple floods and according to co-owner Laub, they felt they had “no other option” to protect the animals if they wouldn’t be allowed to move the sanctuary.

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But the Keenesburg Wild Animal Sanctuary had “publicly offered to care for the animals at their facility if Lion’s Gate was unable to do so,” according to a statement released by three county commissioners. 

The commissioners also said that they were promised the sanctuary would continue its operations as normal, regardless of the county’s ultimate ruling. “Given these facts, the news that Lion’s Gate euthanized all 11 animals at the same time and so shortly after the decision to deny the move comes as a shock,” they said.

But the owners of Lion’s Gate have fought back and argued that they did not receive a fair hearing.

“Due process was not achieved at this hearing,” they said in their own statement obtained by KCNC. “The Elbert County Commissioners did not take our application or the plight of our animals seriously. They did not take the safety of Elbert County residents seriously. We told them it was no longer safe to keep the animals at that location and we needed to move.”