Tigers who spent 15 years in abandoned train car ‘hug’ when they’re finally free


It was a long time coming. The end of the circus era has arrived.Unfortunately, because the circus was still a business, the owners had no care for their animals and their employees. They were simply abandoned or let go.Two of the animals, two tigers, that were abandoned were recently found in the San Luis province in Northwest Argentina.

And the worst part was they were abandoned inside their 75 sq.m. cage.In 2007, a traveling circus had asked the farmer, who owned the land where they left the cage, to take care of the two tigers. They will come back in six months to take them back.They never did.15 years later, the tigers are still stuck inside the feces-infested cage, fed only by the farmer by leaving food inside the cage.

The two tigers are now 18 and 15 years old. Plus, the tigers mated and they have their own cubs, who are all grown up at 10 and 12 years old.

Keeping wild animals on private property is illegal in Argentina. Not wanting to get in trouble with the authorities and believing the circus owners will come back, the farmer never told the authorities about the two tigers. Because the owners did not come back, the farmer did not know what else to do.

In 2021, the Argentinian authorities found out about the tigers, and sent Fauna San Luis, a local wildlife organization, to inspect the situation. And that’s when they found out about the horrible living conditions of the tigers.

They knew they had to rehome the tigers immediately but they couldn’t do that locally.

That’s when Four Paws International found out about the tigers and they reached out to offer a solution.
Four Paws made plans to relocate them to LIONSROCK Big Cat Sanctuary in South Africa, but they needed to get them on the plane first.

When the Four Paws representatives arrived at the scene, they were horrified at the sight.
“The train carriage was filthy with excrements and leftover meat and bones for a long time but fortunately this is not the case anymore. Tigers need to move, run, play, and bathe. Being locked in a 75m² train carriage and only pacing back and forth for 15 years is not a tiger-worthy life. All those years in such a small space have affected their mental and physical well-being for sure. We have a window of opportunity now to rescue them, and we will,” Four Paws veterinarian Dr. Amir Khalil reported.

Now, more than ever, they needed to relocate the tigers so they can finally feel what it is to live a life of freedom.
And that’s what they’ll get when they arrive at LIONSROCK Big Cat Sanctuary.

Getting them there wasn’t too challenging. They managed to get two cages with open grills and placed them on a cargo plane that would begin their journey to South Africa. It took them 70 hours to get to their new home but it was worth it.

It was scary at first for the tigers because it was a sight they’d never seen or felt before.
They grew up caged all their lives and this was something new for them.

“These tigers have never felt grass or earth under their paws. It’s the first time they can see the sky above them, not just metal bars and a roof,” Dr. Khalil said in a statement. “Now they have hundreds of square meters full of new feelings, tastes and smells. It is overwhelming for them to be in a completely new environment but animals are quick at adapting to better living conditions.”

The road to rehabilitation will be a long one, but LIONSROCK Big Cat Sanctuary is sure that the four tigers will adapt and thrive in their new home.

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