Owner of Wildlife Waystation Abandons Fund-Raising Events

May 16, 1985|T. W. McGARRY | Times Staff Writer

The founder of the Wildlife Waystation, a refuge for about 500 homeless lions, tigers, bears and other wild animals in Little Tujunga Canyon, said Wednesday that she is abandoning efforts to hold the fund-raising events that keep the refuge operating.

The decision by Martine Colette places in doubt the future of the 160-acre facility, which may be a victim of its own popularity.

The refuge, which has been supported for eight years by donations, volunteer labor and fund-raising events, provides a home for wild animals abandoned by private owners, victimized by mistreatment or exiled for attacking human beings. It has a feed bill of $25,000 a month, according to Colette.

The growing crowds at the barbecues, chili cook-offs and Western festivals Colette staged to raise money drew the attention of county authorities. The crowds--10,000 at the last event--were too big to allow the events to be considered private parties, authorities told Colette, warning that she would have to meet regulations covering public gatherings.

Colette estimated that it would cost $350,000 to meet the county's conditions.

She has been exploring alternatives with county officials. They recently discussed a plan to stage a barbecue, originally scheduled for May 19 at the refuge, in early June at Hansen Dam Park, six miles away. Shuttle buses would be used to take 1,000 people at a time to the facility to see the animals.

"Where would we get the buses?" Colette asked. "Besides, our fund-raising people feel the events in the past were successful because of the ranch atmosphere, the wild animals, that kind of thing, that we would not have in the park."

Colette said she decided Wednesday that "the fund-raisers are totally killed. Everybody in the county government said, 'Gee, we'd like to help,' but no solution has been found. We're trying to raise some money through public appeals to hold off the creditors."

The refuge is $47,000 in debt to its feed suppliers, who are about to cut off her credit, Colette said. "I don't know where the money will come from," she added.

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