BROOKVILLE, In. (FOX19) - Two tigers, two lions and a tiger cub are now at a Minnesota sanctuary after they were rescued from a local breeding property.
Tammy Thies is the founder and director of the Wildcat Sanctuary in Minnesota. She says her team got a call about a property in Brookville and made the 12-hour drive to the location.
She says they found two lions, Wally and Marlene, and two tigers, Marcus and Winona, living in what Thies called less than ideal conditions.
The primary caregiver at the USDA licensed property recently died, Thies says, and the other relatives wanted the big cats taken to a reputable sanctuary.
“I wouldn’t say they were abused, but there is a much better life ahead of them,” Thies said. “We knew that they were breeding and selling cubs online to other roadside zoos, even to cub petting operations, so we were very thankful that they made the right decision.”
Thies says the rehoming process was especially tough because of the rural terrain, but also because there was a shocking surprise.
“There was a cub! About three hours old with umbilical cord still attached,” Thies said. “I don’t think I’ve ever dropped to my knees, but I did.”
In the moment, Thies says rescuers had to act fast to save all three tigers. The male, Marcus, needed the most medical help.
“Had a lot of open sores on his body, scratches, and the worst was he had a hole puncture in his cheek that we could see into his mouth,” Thies said. “Fifteen of his 30 teeth were fractured or had root pulp exposure.”
All five animals are now at the Minnesota sanctuary. Thies says Dash is now seven-and-a-half weeks old and is being cared for in quarantine since big cats can get COVID-19.
“Some really scary times in the beginning to have such a fragile being completely dependent on our care,” Thies said. “He is doing great. He’s rambunctious. He is training to be an apex predator tiger, exactly what we like to see.”
The hope now is the lions and tigers will be able to live out their lives in a happier environment.
Thies says there is much more work to be done to put a stop to cats suffering in captivity.
“We need to end these substandard facilities being able to be licensed to house lions and tigers in 20-by-30 foot areas to be sold on the internet or sold to whoever wants them. They’re not commodities,” Thies said. “They’re a huge public safety risk, and it’s an animal welfare issue.”
Thies says there were other animals on the Brookville property too, like dogs, cats and birds.
She says all five of the big cats are adjusting well to their new homes, adding that even though they are still living in captivity, they make the sanctuary as much of a natural environment as possible.
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