Press Release

Tentative Settlement Reached in Texas Endangered Species Act Lawsuit

Tiger Creek agrees to meet AZA standards within two years and earn AZA accreditation

Contact: media@aldf.org, 707-364-8387 

DALLAS — The Animal Legal Defense Fund and National Foundation for Rescued Animals, an animal exhibitor doing business as Tiger Creek Animal Sanctuary, have tentatively reached a settlement, pending the dismissal of the Endangered Species Act lawsuit filed in March 2022. The Animal Legal Defense Fund filed the complaint over concerns for the welfare of the tigers, lions, and ring-tailed lemurs based on photos, first-hand accounts by former employees, and an official warning issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), among other information. 

The tentative settlement states that Tiger Creek agrees to be in full compliance of the Association of Zoos and Aquarium (AZA) standards within two years. This will require significant changes to the facility and level of care being provided to the animals. To ensure the changes are made, a mutually agreed upon neutral, third-party auditor will make visits to Tiger Creek leading up to the two-year deadline to determine if Tiger Creek is AZA compliant. Tiger Creek also agrees to earn its AZA accreditation within five years of the settlement execution. If it is unable to meet that deadline, all of the endangered and threatened animals will be transferred to facilities chosen by the Animal Legal Defense Fund. 

Starting immediately, upon execution, Tiger Creek agrees to:

  • not acquire any new endangered or threatened animals until it is compliant with AZA standards;
  • not breed any endangered species;
  • not allow human interactions with endangered or threatened species outside of that deemed necessary by an attending veterinarian;
  • have an attending veterinarian with heightened training or an expertise in exotic animals;
  • make adjustments to tiger housing as deemed necessary by the attending veterinarian; and
  • provide ring-tailed lemurs with enrichment, nutrition, and veterinary care in compliance with the AZA standards.  

Co-defendants Brian Werner, Tiger Creek founder, and his daughter Emily Owen also agree not to acquire any additional endangered or threatened species in the future.  

“The changes that will go into action immediately will improve the lives of the animals significantly, and with the length of time litigation can take, this is the best-case scenario — with the most immediate effect — for the animals at Tiger Creek,” says Animal Legal Defense Fund Senior Staff Attorney Caitlin Foley. “The settlement provides provisions that the animals will be monitored regularly — and the Association of Zoos and Aquariums has much more vigorous standards than those enforced by the USDA.”  

The settlement agreement has been filed with the court and is expected to be accepted and the case dismissed within seven days.   

Israel Silvas of Dykema Gossett PLLC also served as lead counsel for the Animal Legal Defense Fund in this matter.