See how they were moved, and meet the tigers!
I am pleased to share the good news that earlier this month, Siberian tiger siblings Roy, Kim, and Claire moved from PAWS’ Galt, CA, sanctuary where they have lived since they were young cubs, to a spacious new habitat at ARK 2000. My friends at the Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) wanted to share the story of their three special tigers and let everyone know that they are officially in their forever home. The move happened over a two-day period, as one by one each tiger was coaxed into his or her own transport cage and driven the short distance to ARK 2000 in San Andreas. They have all settled in beautifully. (You can watch a video of the tigers’ move at bottom of post.) Here’s my conversation with them:
Tell us how the tigers ended up at PAWS.
Roy and his two sisters, Kim and Claire, were four months old when they arrived with us. They were born on June 2, 2003, at a now defunct roadside zoo in New Hampshire that constantly bred cubs for photo shoots, other roadside zoos, and the exotic pet trade. PAWS was contacted by an animal welfare group asking if we would take the three cubs, and PAWS co-founder, the late Pat Derby, wholeheartedly agreed to provide permanent sanctuary.
Roy as a cub getting his first checkup.
When the three young tigers arrived at the Galt sanctuary in October 2, 2003, they received a thorough medical exam by a veterinarian and were immediately started on a wholesome, nutritious diet. To prevent future breeding, Roy was neutered a few months after arrival. Kim and Claire later underwent ovariohysterectomies (spay surgeries).
Why weren’t the tigers transported to ARK 2000 in the first place?
At the time, construction of tiger habitats at ARK 2000 was still in the planning stages so the three cubs were moved into a large, grassy enclosure in Galt, complete with a custom-built pool designed by our co-founder and President Ed Stewart. This habitat has been home to the cubs for nearly twelve and a half years, and it has been a comfortable and familiar place for them to grow up and mature. Our goal all along was to move them up to a larger habitat at ARK 2000, but this plan was delayed after an unexpected, emergency rescue in 2004 of 39 tigers from horrific conditions in a facility in Colton, CA.
The tigers are fully grown now, and they’ve been at Galt for a long time. Was the move stressful for them?
We have a great deal of experience moving animals in a safe and humane manner. Moving can be a very stressful experience for any captive wild animal, so our primary goal is to make the process as stress-free as possible. Custom-designed transport cages are used. Each cage is large enough for the animal to stand up, turn around, stretch, and lie down comfortably. Our animals are gently coaxed to voluntarily enter their transport cages and are transported fully awake and aware, thus avoiding the potential health risk associated with anesthesia or sedation. Careful planning ensures that the move itself is quick and calm, and our well-trained staff ensures every step of the process is done efficiently and safely.
Could you share with us a little something about each tiger?
Now a full-grown adult, Roy (above) is the largest tiger PAWS has ever rescued. He is tall and lanky, and standing on all fours he is almost as tall as some of our keeper staff! We estimate his weight to be well over 600 pounds. In the very near future we’ll know his exact weight, thanks to a special new scale being delivered to ARK 2000 that can be placed underneath a tiger’s sleeping platform to obtain a weight without the tiger knowing it’s there.
Roy is always watchful and observant, never missing anything going on nearby. He enjoys playing as much as sleeping, and can often be seen stretched out in the grass sound asleep with his “little” sisters. Although he was cautious about passing through doorways for the first few days after the big move, he now feels comfortable and confident. His distinctive crossed eyes and mild curvature of the spine are visible evidence that he is the product of inbreeding, and as a consequence he will always have impaired vision and a tendency toward early arthritis.
Kim (above) is the smallest but most brave of the three tigers. She is always keen to explore new things, and is usually the first to have a look (and sniff) at anything new. Not surprising, Kim walked confidently into the transport cage in Galt — ready for the adventure ahead! During the trip, she rested calmly on a bed of soft hay. Upon arrival at ARK 2000, she strolled out of the cage and into her new den box and made herself right at home. She seems to be thoroughly enjoying the new sights and smells of her new home, and explored the hillside trees, logs, and grass with great relish.
Claire (above) is the most cautious of the trio, and was the last one to walk into the transport cage for her big move. Once in, she seemed accepting of the plan and was calm. When we stopped halfway through the road trip to check on her, Claire peeked back at us from a comfortable position on her bed of hay. Claire is never far from her big brother Roy, and can often be seen lying in the tall grass with him. She loves the grass so much that it is sometimes a challenge to encourage her to come in from the habitat to eat. At meal times, we call the tigers in so that they can each be fed in their own den box. This allows each tiger to eat at his or her pace, without competition, and also allows us time to clean the habitat. When Claire is called, she walks several steps toward us and then plops down on the grass, luxuriously rolling on her back for a few minutes. Then she gets up, walks a little bit, and plops down to roll again!
Why can’t they be returned to the wild?
These animals were born in captivity, so they wouldn’t have learned how to survive in the wild, because most likely their mother didn’t either. Regardless of their mother being present or not, even cubs taken directly from the wild are usually taken too soon to learn the necessary skills. Basically, they do not know how to hunt properly. They still retain their natural instincts to hunt, however they never learned from their parent how to execute a kill. It is dangerous to the animal, and to the public, when an animal that has been dependent on humans is released. The animal will either starve, because it does not know what to do, or it will wander into someone else’s property or home looking for a meal. The best thing for these animals is to make them as happy and as comfortable as possible.
What’s next for Roy, Kim, and Claire?
To live happily ever after! We are delighted to see these three beautiful tigers enjoying their spacious new home, and look forward to continuing to provide expert, dedicated care for them in this new chapter of their lives.
Watch the video of their move:
If you’d like, you can help buy Roy, Kim, and Claire a “house warming gift.”
You can help welcome “the cubs” — as they are still lovingly called — to their new home at ARK 2000 with a special gift. They need a pool, and PAWS must raise $85,000 to build a pool for the three tigers. Roy, Kim, and Claire, like all tigers, love water — as you can see in the above photo of Claire playing with a pumpkin in her pool at the Galt sanctuary.