The Humane Society of the United States said in a news release an investigation documented "serious animal welfare issues as well as public safety concerns" at Collins Zoo in Collins, Miss.
The animals -- three tigers, three cougars, two leopards, two wolf hybrids and one Rhesus macaque -- are to be moved to three sanctuaries in Texas and one in North Carolina, Humane Society spokeswoman Jordan Crump said.
The Collins Zoo failed to provide adequate veterinary care and shelter for the animals, the society said. An investigation revealed animals housed in small pens with little space that were underweight and suffering from ailments, the release said.
"The animals at the Collins Zoo have been forced to live in inhumane conditions for many years, and The Humane Society of the United States is relieved to finally be able to rescue these animals and help them begin new lives in appropriate sanctuaries," Lydia Sattler, Mississippi state director for the Humane Society, said in the news release.
Zoo owner Betty White told the Hattiesburg (Miss.) American she has a U.S. Department of Agriculture license for a zoo and had applied for a permit for the animals deemed inherently dangerous after state legislation governing dangerous animals was enacted in 1997. She said the permit was denied but state lawmakers had told her she would be grandfathered into legal possession without a permit.
"I'm a person who wanted to have my animals and enjoy them and make enough money to take care of them," she said.