Branson magician sends big cats into retirement

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Photo courtesy: Springfield News-Leader

BRANSON, Mo. (AP) _ A southwest Missouri magician has sent three tigers and two leopards into retirement after downsizing his show, much to the delight of a nearby animal sanctuary.

All five cats were born in captivity and trained to be an integral part of illusionist Kirby VanBurch’s show on the Branson strip.

The Springfield News-Leader reports the animals arrived at the National Tiger Sanctuary between Springfield and Branson last week.

Sanctuary executive director Abbie Knudsen applauded VanBurch’s decision to stop using exotic animals and says the change marks an end to a chapter of Branson’s history.

The not-for-profit sanctuary now has 27 big cats and is raising up to $100,000 to build new habitats for each new animal.
Information from: Springfield News-Leader,