Today is #InternationalTigerDay and RYOT is joining with our friends at The Humane Society (HSUS) to inform you about the welfare of tigers in the US and to introduce you to some of these awesome big cats.
At a state level, HSUS works to enact state laws to restrict the possession of especially dangerous wild animals only to qualified, professionally-run, and fiscally-responsible facilities. Since 2004, numerous states have enacted legislation prohibiting or restricting certain wild animals as pets.
At the federal level, The Humane Society of the United States continues to support legislation that would curb the private possession and breeding of tigers, lions, cougars, and other big cats.
You can see HSUS at work here in this 2012 video where they conducted an undercover investigation at a roadside zoo in Collins, Mississippi. HSUS States joined with the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks, the Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch, Carolina Tiger Rescue, Wildlife Rescue & Rehabilitation and Born Free USA Primate Sanctuary to rescue 11 exotic animals from the Collins Zoo.
“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,” said Lydia Sattler, Mississippi state director for HSUS. You can visibly see the aggressive nature of these animals while living in horrible conditions. But after this rescue, you can also see the hope of bringing a sense of normalcy to the beautiful animals by placing them in a more suitable living condition.
Two of these tigers that were rescued from the Collins Zoo were Natalia and Gustavo. Natalia is 11 years old and suffers from renal issues caused by her incorrect diet while at the zoo. Gustavo is the sanctuary’s oldest tiger at 13 and the largest at nearly 400 pounds. He too has medical issues caused by life before the sanctuary.
A healthy tiger has a life expectancy of 20-25 years when properly cared in captivity.
To see how well HSUS has been treating these rescued animals, we can look at the video of life after rescue. This tiger is Alexander.
Alexander was rescued from a backyard in Kansas after his owner left him abandoned in ramshackle cages without access to food or clean water and within sight of a children’s daycare. When he arrived at Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch in Murchison, Texas, Alex was three years old. He recently celebrated his fifth birthday. He is still very young and playful and described as the sanctuary’s extrovert tiger.
Tigers, lions, and other big cat species have exploded in popularity in the exotic pet trade. There are an estimated 5,000 to 7,000 tigers in the United States, but fewer than 400 of them are in zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Authorities around the country are seizing tigers and other big cats from basements, backyard cages, apartments, and hellish roadside zoos.
Lastly, remember that tigers, big cats, and other exotic animals are NOT pets and deserve the care of professionals to keep them safe and healthy.