Neglected Tigers Find Home In East Texas - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

2/08/03 - Smith County

Neglected Tigers Find Home In East Texas

Hello, kitty indeed.

Eight new tigers and leopards were brought in this weekend from near Austin, rescued from a bankrupt drive-through zoo by the Tiger Creek Wildlife Refuge.

"A lot of times we rescue these guys," says Park Director Terri Block. "They have been neglected, they haven't been taken care of, they haven't gotten the vet care that they need."

For Terri and the other employees of Tiger Creek, it's business as usual. They rescue, then rehab.

"It's something that we're definitely not getting wealthy off of," Terri admits." There's not money in this business, it's truly out of love and passion. I guess through the grace of God, we get by and these animals are taken care of. We want to make sure they get the best life possible."

They start by nursing them back to health. The new animals got their first solid meal in a while, and will be checked by a vet before being put in with the others.

Some are retired circus animals. Amazingly, some of the animals are former pets who were abandoned when they grew too large. Two tigers were former pets of Michael Jackson. There are other tiger havens, but there's just not enough room.

"All of the sanctuaries have limited spaces," Terri says. "Unfortunately, we have a great need to develop more area for them."

This brings the Tiger Creek total to thirty-six animals. It's a tall order to take care of them all. The employees work year-round, even sacrificing vacation time for their furry friends. In the end, though, it all seems worth it.

"I just feel like this is my mission," Terri says. "This is what I'm here for. I wake up every day that I'm taking care of these animals, and if I die tomorrow I die happy."

Reid Kerr (rkerr@kltv.com) reporting.

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