From ANIMAL PEOPLE, October 2009:
SAN ANTONIO–Nicole A. Garcia on October 4, 2009 succeeded
her mother, Carol Asvestas, as chief executive of Wild Animal
Orphanage, but it was not an easy succession.
Asvestas, who founded WAO in 1983, resisted stepping down.
Garcia, who grew up helping to run the sanctuary, but had lived in
Florida for several years, returned in late 2008 in anticipation of
helping Asvestas fend off critics, including a former board member
who had resigned and taken a list of allegations to the USDA and the
Texas Office of Attorney General.
Instead, Garcia told ANIMAL PEOPLE, she found that many of
the allegations she had heard were substantially true. After taking
the evidence to the board, Garcia found herself cleaning up after an
October 4, 2009 coup d’etat that displaced both of her parents.
“The board of directors did not oust Ron and Carol,” WAO
vice president Sumner Matthes told ANIMAL PEOPLE. “Our original
legal vote was to place them on 90-day administrative leave.
Unfortunately, this was not acceptable to them, and they
immediately proceeded to the WAO offices and removed computers,
records and various other things essential to our conducting an
in-house investigation. These items have essentially been returned
as a result of legal action,” Matthes said. “This resulted in the
board holding another meeting at which it was voted to terminate