A Day at Tiger Haven
The purpose of Tiger Haven is to provide a permanent home for big cats where they can enjoy the remainder of their natural life in peace and contentment.
Tiger Haven is not simply a place where a lot of big cats live. It is the cats-and it is the people who take care of the cats. It is a safe place for big cats whose previous life had often been one of torment and neglect. It is not just a physical place, but an environment of immense love for and dedication to the great cats that live here.
You see, when we make the decision to take a cat into the sanctuary, we must also make the commitment to care for the cat for the remainder of its natural life. Some cats live twenty years or so. During that time a lot of money is required to provide the food, medical care, shelter, and a multitude of other needs the cat will have. And sanctuaries do not make money. They are supported by donations they can beg from the public in general.
During the stifling ninety degree summer heat, the windy, subfreezing winter cold, and the damp, rainy, miserable times the cats must still be cared for. They have to be fed, their enclosures and dens cleaned, broken doors fixed and frozen water lines repaired. There are few days off. Who will take care of the cats?
So we are often asked, "Why do you do it? There are so many big cats that need homes, and you cannot take them all. Why commit to another cat? It can't possibly make that much difference."
I am reminded of a story of a man walking down a beach where thousands upon thousands of starfish had been stranded. In the hot sun, and unable to get back to the water, they were all dying. The man would walk a ways and stop to pick up a starfish and throw it back into the water. Then walk a ways farther and toss another starfish into the water.
A bystander asked him, "Why bother? With so many starfish dying it can't possibly make a difference." The man picked up another starfish, tossed it into the water, and said, "It made a difference to that one."
No, we cannot rescue all the cats who need homes. Although we provided sanctuary for several big cats in 1998, we were forced to turn away almost 60 more. There are limitations in funding and manpower.
But it made a difference to those who we could rescue.
Although most of the great cats are rare in the wild, it is the availability of homes for them that is rare in captivity. There are humane societies and animal welfare agencies for the traditional domestic pets, such as cats and dogs. But who will protect the big cats that, for generations, have been forced into domestication? How can we discard them any more than we can any other animal after their usefulness is over?
Another question we are asked is, "What's in it for you?"
Why does any person dedicate their life to other worthwhile causes such as cancer societies, children's programs and anti-violence organizations? What do they get out of it?
Most people want to do something to help make the world a better place, and many do what they can. Some things require more effort and dedication than others.
But sometimes the rewards are great. When we can look into the eyes of the most magnificent of all land predators and know her true nature; to feel her real love and affection for us; to know she wants our presence, feels it when we are near her, and greets us with gentle body contact; these are our rewards.
But when we look into the pleading eyes of a starving, abused, injured member of this same species and see only despair and resigned acceptance of a horrible life, we cannot just walk away. They know we can help, if only we will.
So why do we do it? What's in it for us? Ask Kalahari, or Gandalf, or Sundarban, or Scar, or Takota, or Dandy Lion, or Lucknow, or Kanpur, or Samara, or any other cat at Tiger Haven who had an appointment with a terrible and undeserved death. There you will find the answer you are looking for.
If we have the ability to help any animal in need,
then we have the moral obligation to do so.
Their gratitude is genuine.
In a perfect world there would be enough space for all God's creatures and none would have to suffer cruelty from others. But the world has not been perfect since the first bite was taken out of the apple. As long as the big cats are abused, abandoned, confiscated and healthy animals are euthanized; Tiger Haven will strive to provide a home where they can live their lives in the peace and contentment they deserve.