The Washington County Department of Land Use and Transportation has cited the controversial non-profit A Walk on a Wild Side for two code violations related to the outfit's creature collection.
A Walk on the Wild Side is an exotic animal exhibitor located about 15 minutes from downtown Portland.
The county issued two citations Aug. 18 for "feeding, breeding and management of exotic animals along with sales of the products of exotic animals on farm-zoned property without a permit." The violations could result in fines ranging from $750 and $5,000.
A Walk on the Wild Side is run by Steve Higgs and Cheryl Jones, who started taking in animals 37 years ago.
They say they now have more lions and tigers than the Oregon Zoo.
The couple claims their nonprofit educates people about wild animals and conservation. Critics say Higgs and Jones are inappropriately keeping wild animals in cages in order to make a buck.
After a years-long back-and-forth with Clackamas County over code violations at its previous location in Canby, A Walk on the Wild Side decided to move its operation to Hillsboro in early 2016. The big cats moved into their new enclosures in Washington County in late May. Their roars can be heard by neighbors who live nearly a mile away.
Washington County officials say they warned Higgs and Jones that bringing wild animals onto the 80-acre exclusive farm use land in Hillsboro would violate state and local zoning ordinances.
Higgs and Jones have maintained their operations are fully licensed by the US Department of Agriculture and permitted by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.
On Monday, Higgs said Washington County regulators are wrong about the code violations.
"That's something that I guess we'll end up in court over," Higgs tells WW. "I feel very comfortable in our position and what we're doing. We're a horse facility. We have our orchard. We have our animals. There's not much more we could do that is farm use."