Where are Michael's tigers? Who's "lion"?

By Courtney Lane - bio | email
Posted by Ellen Krafve - email

SMITH COUNTY, TX (KLTV) - There has been some big confusion over the king of pop's big cats. On Monday, we showed you "Thriller" and "Sabu," two tigers living at Tiger Creek Wildlife refuge in Smith County. The cats were reportedly given to Tiger Creek by officials at Jackson's Neverland Ranch. Since that story aired, the celebrity news site TMZ ran a story, claiming Jackson's tigers are actually at the Tippi Hedren Reserve in California. So, who's telling the truth? Who is the real Thriller and Sabu? Are they retired right here in East Texas at Tiger Creek, or are they the California cats, plastered all over celebrity news sites?

"Again, another mystery with Michael," said Teri Werner, director of operations at Tiger Creek.

But paperwork proves that the "king of pop" actually had at least four tigers. I talked to Shambala Preserve in California, who said theirs came from Neverland three years ago. But, according to Tiger Creek's documentation, we have the originals.

"We've had his sets of tigers at least nine years now," said Werner. "The last set went to another sanctuary in California. What gets confusing is he names the animals the same names. So, when you see their names on there then people are confused. How can this cat go to two different places? They didn't he's just going through different sets of animals."

So, there's no "lion", just two sets of tigers.

"Nobody's lying about the tigers and where they went and where they came from," said Werner. "We know there were several Bubbles the chimp and everybody thinks there's only one but there wasn't."

So, at least two Sabus and two Thrillers.

"When Michael gets these tigers, he names them the same names," explained Werner. "The male is Sabu and the female is Thriller, so we did change their names. We didn't really like those names."

Tiger Creek renamed the cats Accolon and Sierra, and they're living here in northern Smith County for you to visit.

Tiger Creek got their cats from Neverland after their trainer was injured and couldn't take care of them anymore. The preserve in California got theirs more recently, after Michael Jackson ran into financial problems.

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