Unwanted Exotics

When Angela Harter moved out of the city many years ago, she had no idea what her life would be like. Now, living in rural Central Ohio – a place once known for its lax laws on exotic animal ownership and breeding – Angela Harter’s “Rescue One” animal sanctuary has literally taken over her house. (See photos).

Angela gets phone calls all the time from people who want to give up their exotic animal, without even offering a donation. And if she’s not up to the task? Some owners have even threatened to shooting the animal if she can’t come get it. So Angela’s big heart for animals takes over, and now she’s got about 20 domestic cats, several dogs, a pack of wolves, over 15 tigers, a dozen or so lions, almost ten cougars, a black bear, and fish living in mazes of cages, right next to where she rests her head at night.

Angela spends her own money and dedicates her own time to the full-time, demanding, high-maintenance job of operating Rescue One. And it’s not easy – for starters, the animals require between 200-300 pounds of meat per day. Angela’s even resorted to selling family heirlooms – like her grandmother’s ring – to keep the animals alive.

WATCH: Strapped for cash, Resource One must be resourceful to feed their rescued animals. And sometimes that means roadkill for dinner.

She may not have planned it this way, but getting out this lifestyle just isn’t an option. Angela wants the job, and no one else wants the animals. They’ve got nowhere to go, and they need her. At the sanctuary, Angela has a deformed lion suffering from a spinal deficiency, another that can barely walk, and a tiger with a kidney infection. All her animals were born in captivity and don’t know how to survive in the wild.

Even Angela admits that she’s got a lot on her plate. But when animal advocates suggest relocating a few animals to relieve some of the pressure, Angela feels that it’s not a cut and dry answer. Two of the tigers, brothers, are bonded with one another and know their caregivers. Would it be too stressful for them to move on out? Are they even strong enough to survive the journey? And Angela’s heart is larger than her property and resources – she’s attached to them, too, and doesn’t want to abandon them in their time of need.

Go inside Rescue One and get a glimpse of what it’s like to care for dozens of dangerous predators on a brand-new episode of Animal Intervention on Nat Geo Wild. Tuesdays at 9 PM EST!



  1. carrie katon
    United States/ vermont
    October 24, 2012, 10:08 am

    I have an exotic pet that i have been trying to place in a zoo or sanctuary for a few years now & have had no success! i have a n 8.5 foot boa constrictor he is handled all t time & a big part of our family but has out grown our means & loving him as much as we do we would love to find him his paradise!! if u can give me any info i would appreciate it!