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Hitchcock Actress Honored for Big Cat Preservation

Actress Tippi Hedren has been honored with a humanitarian award for her work protecting exotic animals like lions, tigers, and leopards. During her Hollywood years she was probably most well known for her starring role in Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds,” a horror film about a huge number of birds attacking humans.

Hedren’s role in animal preservation has been something of the opposite as she has been protecting animals from neglect and abuse. In 1983 she founded the The Roar Foundation to support the Shambala Preserve which is the animal sanctuary she also started for abandoned and mistreated exotic felines. Today the sanctuary is a home to up to seventy big cats, and all of them were taken into custody first by legal authorities from situations which were unhealthy for the animals. For example, some are from road side zoos, where they had been kept in tiny cages, and others are from individuals who could not handle them properly.

When she received the award she said, “Since 1971, I have been dealing with and learning about the great cats, and continue to be appalled by the fact that no one has been actively concerned about these animals being purchased as pets. They are apex predators, top of the food chain, one of the eight most dangerous animals in the world. The number of mauling incidents and deaths caused by these predators is horrifying. What makes a pet or a working animal out of these deadly animals? Why aren’t there solid Federal laws to prevent this danger?” (Source:

Two of Michael Jackson’s bengal tigers, Thriller and Sabu were relocated to the Shambala Preserve, in Acton, CA after Neverland’s zoo was closed down. Those two animals arrived with no financial support, so the Shambala Preserve had to absorb the costs to take care of them. (Running the animal sanctuary requires about $75,000 per month.)

There could be as many as 5,000 tigers located in private residences just in the state of  Texas. Sometimes these animals are purchased by well-meaning but uninformed people who don’t know how much space tigers need to move in and maintain their fitness, so they are kept in small enclosures. Others tire of them, and don’t give them the attention they need. In fact, there has been enough mistreatment of big cats and illegal trafficking that Hedren helped create legislation called the Captive Wildlife Safety Act. A factsheet about the legislation says, “This law amends the Lacey Act to make it illegal to import, export, buy, sell, transport, receive or acquire certain live big cats across State lines or the U.S. border.”

If you are in Southern California and want to visit the Shambala Preserve for a tour, they take place once a month on weekends, or you can also stay overnight in a tent on the grounds.

Image Credit:  Paul Mannix

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7:56AM PDT on Apr 10, 2011

Had no idea! We need more people like Tippi!

3:14PM PST on Jan 17, 2011

Tippi is a hero, her commitment to our brothers & sisters is humbling. Dat after day, week after week, year after year.

3:07PM PST on Jan 1, 2011

Wonderful lady. Congratulations to her, and may she live a long and prosperous life helping animals.

7:22PM PST on Dec 31, 2010

Thanks for sharing, we need more people like her.

2:36PM PST on Dec 19, 2010

i knew about her activities to save large cats long before now...and i watched both parts 1 and 2 of the big cats here...very interesting and the need is much larger than what is being addressed at shambala...they do what they can, but that is not always enough....and people continue to acquire big cats as pets, treat them despicably, abuse them, and then get rid of them...these big cats are some of the lucky ones to have a great place to live....thanks...

9:20AM PST on Dec 19, 2010

She has the financial ability to do more than most and does.

6:43AM PST on Dec 19, 2010

nice to have people like her

5:28PM PST on Dec 18, 2010

I am sure this is a very worthy rewarding work. Thumbs up Tippi Hedren :-)

4:15PM PST on Dec 18, 2010

Excellent! very nice lady

12:01AM PST on Dec 18, 2010

thanks for sharing.

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