MURCHISON, Texas – A former “pet” tiger discovered in a cage where he could barely move in a Houston home last February has made great strides during his first year living at the Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch.
When he first arrived at the sanctuary, Loki had to adjust to a life in a spacious habitat with grass and trees. He feared sounds like the wind blowing and the rustling of leaves. He was unsure how to climb and was afraid to go into his pool. Now, a year later, he is acting like a healthy, happy tiger, enjoying the life he deserves.
Noelle Almrud, director of the Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch, said, “Loki is recovering beautifully from his former life in a cage. When he first got here, he was hesitant of everything. He appeared to have had no previous exposure to a large natural setting, and it took him a bit of time to relax and enjoy swimming, climbing, playing and exploring. He is now living the life he truly deserves.”
The sanctuary staff is also training him with operant conditioning to humanely teach him to cooperate without any stress if they need to give him any medical attention. That means teaching him “up” so they can observe his belly, paw pads and nails.
Christi Gilbreth, Loki’s primary caregiver, explains, “To teach him the ‘up’ behavior we had to offer him a treat inch by inch. At first, he would only follow the food up a foot or two, instead of reaching higher, he would walk away. He had no idea that there was room for him to stand higher and acted as though he was limited in his space. This was likely because the cage he was found in was only waist high where he had limited movement and was never able to stand to his full height on his hind legs. He is slowly getting accustomed to his freedom now and is doing great in this training process.”
In February 2019 after he was found abandoned in a Houston home, the tiger was transferred to the world-renowned 1,400-acre sanctuary in Murchison, Texas, joining more than 800 resident animals including a tiger named Alex, a former pet who arrived in 2014. Alex and Loki’s habitats are next to each other.
The sanctuary is operated by the Fund for Animals, an affiliate of the Humane Society of the United States.
- In some states, exotic animals are readily available to anyone who wants to buy or own one and there is no uniform regulation determining who can possess big cats or other dangerous wild animals in the U.S.
- Thousands of these animals are kept in grossly substandard conditions at poorly run roadside and traveling zoos, pseudo-sanctuaries, and as pets in private menageries.
- Thirty-five states have already passed meaningful laws regarding the private possession of wild cats.
- Texas SB 641 - legislation championed by Senator Joan Huffman and Senator Carol Alvarado that would have prohibited private ownership in Texas, made it through the full Senate during the 2019 session. The bill was stalled in the House Public Health Committee and ultimately did not pass. Currently, it is still legal in much of Texas to privately own dangerous wild animals.
- The Big Cat Public Safety Act, H.R. 1380 and S. 2561, would improve the welfare of captive big cats and protect public safety. In particular, the legislation prohibits public contact with tigers, lions and other dangerous cat species. In this way, the bill takes a meaningful step toward ending activities in which people pay to pet, feed, take pictures with or play with big cat babies. The constant production of cubs for these activities is the major driver of the huge surplus of big cats across the country. The bill also prohibits possession of big cats without a USDA license.