Lifetime abused circus tiger gets his fairy tale ending
Hoover the tiger, a former circus cat who endured a lifetime of suffering, will finally get a new home in Florida at a big cat sanctuary where he'll be spoiled and have plenty of space to run, swim, and play.
Hoover has spent his entire life, nearly 12 years, performing tricks with a traveling circus in Peru. There's been a crackdown worlwide on the use of animals in circus events, as in the most recent announcement of the Ringling Brothers fading out their elephant acts due to treatment concerns, but sadly more animals will get hurt until these acts are stopped all together.
In 2012 after a two-year investigation and public campaign by ADI exposed animal abuse in Latin America’s circuses, Peru banned wild animal acts.
"Enforcement of the ban meant confiscating large, dangerous animals, moving them to a holding facility and caring for them—and finding them new homes. Lacking experience in this kind of work, the Peruvian government enlisted the help of Animal Defenders International (ADI), which launched Operation Spirit of Freedom," National Geographic reports.
The first raids from Operation Spirit of Freedom came in late August 2014. Trucks were sent to hide out near the circuses and wait for the right moment to move in to rescue. “We knew they’d tip each other off,” Jay Creamer, ADI co founder, says. “But we figured they’d never expect us to travel miles and be set up to get to them all quickly.”
In Peru, the operation took longer than expected. “Resistance of the circus owners, together with the many places to hide in mountains and forests, has made it tough,” Tim Philips, ADI co founder, explains. Fueled by greed and the loss of their living 'assets', these circus owners weren't going to give in easily.
For months, the circuses eluded authorities until in July 2015 ADI received tips about two in villages in northern Peru, close to the border with Ecuador. ADI and Peruvian authorities raided them both, where they saved Hoover just in time, for he was the one surviving tiger (out of 12 or more) with Circo Africano.
An eight-hour standoff with Circo Koreander followed, leading to the rescue of Mufasa the mountain lion, who had been chained to the back of a truck for 20 years.
When ADI rescued Hoover, Creamer says, he was a frail, not-too-healthy tiger. In ADI’s care, he has improved, building his strength and putting on weight.
“However, given his history, we believe he will always need to be monitored,” Philips notes.
“He’s just not had a good life,” Creamer says.
But that's all about to change, because Hoover is about to get his fairytale ending. On April 23rd, his 12th birthday, he’ll be released into his new home, a spacious enclosure at Big Cat Rescue filled with shady trees, soft grass, and a spring-fed lake.
Big Cat Rescue is one of the largest accredited sanctuaries in the world dedicated to abused and abandoned big cats. They are an incredible organization and they treat and spoil all of their big cats. They're absolutely wonderful. We've posted a few of their videos on our site before, such as here and here.
"ADI believes Big Cat Rescue will provide a wonderful home for Hoover,” Philips says. “We’ve seen the enclosure he’ll have and also the first class veterinary facilities they have on site. The climate will be similar to what Hoover is used to as well."
“The cats are quite spoiled here,” says Susan Bass, the organization’s public relations director.
Already in the works for Hoover is a welcome party complete with a special treat: an all-meat birthday cake!
Hoover had a horribly rough life, but we hope that this fairytale ending fills him with the love and happiness he deserves.
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