Exotic animals to be relocated as Wildlife Waystation shuts down

SYLMAR, Calif. (KABC) -- The California Department of Fish and Wildlife is now in control of the well-known Wildlife Waystation after the facility surrendered its permit to house exotic animals.

Officials with the California department say age and time have taken a toll on the large facility in the Angeles National Forest.

"There was extensive damage done to the facility in 2017 from the Creek Fire and again in 2019 due to some flooding. They have not been able to get the facility up to current standards," said Jordan Traverso from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

No violations were reported at the facility officials said and all the animals are safe.

The Wildlife Waystation has been open for more than 40 years.

Dozens of staff and volunteers have worked tirelessly to give the animals a better life. Many of them, including more than four dozen chimpanzees, came from medical research facilities.

"There's a lot of animals there, more than 470 animals. It's not going to be a quick process involved to get the animals placed," said Traverso.

Martine Colette, who founded the Wildlife Waystation, stepped down in May amid a series of legal and financial difficulties.

The state is now taking over care of the animals as officials work on finding them new homes. Authorities say it will be a very lengthy process due to the needs of some of the animals.

Traverso said, "I understand that a lot of the animals are older and under some type of veterinary care so it's going to be more difficult to place."

The state says it will begin moving some of the animals as soon as Wednesday, but it could take up to a year before all the animals will be relocated.
Copyright © 2019 KABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.