LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — A Las Vegas woman received a letter in the mail from the owner of the Lion Habitat Ranch that shocked and confused her. 

In early August, Annoula Wylderich opened her mail to find the lengthy letter written by Keith Evans, wanting donations to keep up with the care of the animals at his Henderson ranch.

In the letter, Evans said, “It scares me deeply to think about what might happen if I can’t afford to feed them.” It went on to say, “It’s possible they would be euthanized because they simply have nowhere to go I can’t let that happen.”

“I was shocked,” Wylderich told 8 News Now. “I think it’s terribly wrong to be deceiving donors when you are soliciting money and when you’re tugging at their heartstrings.”

Wylderich turned to the Attorney General’s office, claiming the organization was involved in “fraudulent fundraising practice.”

“It’s very misleading and deceiving,” Wylderich said. 

8 News Now spoke with Evans, the owner of Lion Habitat Ranch, who said the letters were sent out by a separate fundraising company.

When asked if the lions are at risk of being euthanized, Evans said, “No because we are able to take care of them.”

Evans went on to say that the reason why the letter sent to residents indicated that, was because it was the way the fundraising company “operates.”

The fundraising group based out of Virginia, Eberle Associates, mails letters out in mass quantities.

When asked if he handwrote the letter first, Evan said “Yes, but I don’t know when it went out originally.”

8 News Now asked Evans if he had the final approval before it was sent to residents and he said, “It had my final approval based on the fact if I say no, then whatever money they spent up onto that point I’m liable for it, 30 or 40 thousand dollars that I don’t have.”

However, tax documents 8 News Now obtained showed in 2021-2022 the ranch earned $2,513,699. 

Out of those earnings the ranch spent $613,533 on Eberle Associates, the document said.

“They are making more money than what we are making,” Evans told 8 News Now. 

The ranch has about 21 lions which do not include the other animals in their care. Their tax forms showed the cost of animal care for 2022 was $218,122. 

Evans is adamant his animals are cared for and if you do find a letter in your mail that says otherwise, throw it away. 

Evans told 8 News Now the cats are only euthanized due to old age or sickness. 

In addition to the interview, the Lion Habitat Ranch sent us the following statement : 

It has come to our attention that an old letter provided through our fundraising company has recirculated and included inaccurate information regarding the future and care of our lions. Our lions, and the rest of our animal family are safe, secure, and supported. Additionally, shortly after this letter went out, our operational permits were renewed for another 10 years and we continue to grow and develop our relationship with the county and community.

The letter’s verbiage was created under the fundraising company’s advice and unfortunately did not clearly portray the positions, opinions, or options the Lion Habitat Ranch experienced following recovery from COVID protocols. We trusted in the fundraising company to aid us in raising funds for our small non-profit but this did not result as planned. We have notified the fundraising company to cease use of this letter and our team will be more prudent to rigorously review any and all information in the future for clarity and accuracy.

Our lions, and the rest of our animal family continue to receive their full diets daily, veterinary care, heating/cooling in the summer and winter, as well as enrichment and care from our keepers. We are extremely thankful for the support we have received from our community. As a non-profit, wildlife sanctuary striving to provide the best possible care for our animal family, we are always in need of visitors, donations, and support. Please know we are aware this letter may have created undue concern for our animals and be assured that our animals are safe and well. We all experienced significant strain to our lives and businesses during COVID and hope that you will understand our error. We thank you for your continued support and understanding.

Keith Evans and the Lion Habitat Ranch Family 

8 News Now reached out to the Attorney General’s office to find out what the next steps for the complaints are.