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: Broadwayworld.com)
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.”
Image Credit: Paul Mannix