In October 2011, a man named Terry Thompson took his own life and sent 49 exotic animals from his private menagerie to their deaths. His actions changed a family, the fate of their backyard menagerie, his home state, and a nation. A concentrated effort in Ohio following that horrific event culminated with the passing of a new state law that went into effect in June 2012. Ohio now regulates the private ownership of exotic animals in the Buckeye state, and has banned most future acquisitions of exotic predators by private citizens. Black Pine is among only a small number of “true” sanctuaries that have been able to step up to help owners who are unable to comply with new laws, thanks to public support to help us provide refuge for the REST of the affected animals' lives. The Ohio Tiger Relief Fund was established in late 2012 to help fund their ongoing care.
Denise Flores worked hard to help the animals she promised she would never let down. Beginning in early 2012, Denise relocated two tigers, a cougar, and a macaw to well-respected sanctuaries for permanent refuge. With her husband, Jose, in failing health, the labor required and costs associated with compliance with new laws made her hopes of keeping the four remaining tigers living in her back yard impossible. Facing the loss of their home, Black Pine helped Denise and Jose fulfill promises they made to Sammie, Delilah, Taz and Ticha by providing them a new “forever home”.
Sammie (above), allegedly an Indo-Chinese tiger*, born in May 1996 at Noahsland Wildlife Park in Harwood, Texas. He was used as a “picture baby” for photo opportunities for profit. Sammie’s parents, also living at that time at Noahsland, had been confiscated sometime earlier by the United States Department of Agriculture when they arrived on a boat coming from Indo China. The cats were placed at Noahsland, then had babies. In 1998, Sammie was put up for auction when the Texas park’s owners decided to retire.
At the time Sammie and other animals were put up for auction, Denise and Jose Flores were employees of Noahsland. It was Denise’s job to take potential buyers around to tour the park and meet the animals that would be up for sale at auction. Denise expressed her concerns for the future of the three tigers she had bottle raised, Sammie, Delilah and Taz. Her concerns were heard, and the three cats were ultimately purchased by a buyer who gave them to Denise and Jose so they could continue providing their care. This is when Denise made a promise she vowed to keep. From that day until now, Denise has kept her promise and chose Black Pine carefully, knowing these cats will not be let down.
Delilah (at right), allegedly a Sumatran tiger*, was born in 1997 at Noahsland. This cat’s parents were retired circus performers. Delilah was born and used for photos for profit while living at Noahsland. Today, Delilah is a skittish tiger and not fond of strangers, so will live out the REST of her life in quiet, private quarters at Black Pine.
Taz (on left in photo at left), allegedly a Bengal tiger*, was born at Noahsland in 1998. He, too, was used for photos with guests. He shares his house with Ticha (on right in photo at left), allegedly a Siberian tiger*, came into Denise’s care in 1999 when a veterinarian asked for help to care for two young tiger cubs that were attacked by a rotweiler. At just three weeks of age, the cats were emaciated and in danger. Denise and Jose adopted Ticha and saved her life. Thompson took his own life and changed a family, the fate of their backyard menagerie, and a nation. Since that incident in Zanesville, Ohio last October, Black Pine Animal Sanctuary and animal advocates across the country have been urging governments and citizens to put the welfare of animals and public safety first.
On Labor Day 2013 two more tigers, Top Cat and Millie, were also given refuge, surrendered from an Ohio site. They bring the number of tigers living at Black Pine to an all-time high: eleven.
*Tigers living in America in unaccredited zoos, private homes, circuses, and otherwise outside of the Species Survival Plan (SSP) Programs, are often hybrids, not pure bred specimens. Some call these cats "American tigers". Word of mouth histories, lacking any documentation or proof, may indicate origins. However, without the benefit of the record keeping of programs such as the SSP, the animals are not likely viable specimens for any efforts to help save endangered wild tigers. Only animals with proven genetics, lacking evidence of in-breeding, or cross-breeding, would be considered good candidates for conserving a species.
"Delilah" photo credit: ©Karine Aigner/karineaigner.com
Black Pine is among only a small number of “true” sanctuaries able to help thanks to your support!
Denise Flores has been working hard to help the animals she promised she would never let down. Since the beginning of 2012, Denise relocated two tigers, a cougar, and a macaw to well-respected sanctuaries for permanent refuge. Now, her husband, Jose in failing health, the labor required and costs associated with compliance with new laws make her hopes of keeping the four remaining tigers living in her back yard impossible. Facing the loss of their home, Black Pine is helping Denise and Jose fulfill promises made to Sammie, Delilah, Taz and Ticha by providing them a new “forever home”. The Ohio Tiger Relief Fund is for them.
InfoBox - Tiger
Status: Endangered species.
Diet in wild: Deer, wild pig, other mammals.
Life span in wild: 15 years.
Weight: 220 to 380 pounds.
Native habitat: India and scattered throughout southeast Asia.
Caregivers, trainers, and handlers reference a tiger's stripes to distinguish one from another. In this photo example, we've "highlighted" a distinctive "C" pattern in Cita's stripes on her forehead. In this case, her "C" for Cita helps us quickly distinguish her from her sister, Jai.
Every tiger's stripe pattern is unique, just like human fingerprints are all different. Breaks in the stripes, excessive stripes, or even a lack of stripes can help a human tell tigers apart. Next time you see more than one tiger, see if you can find a distinguishing characteristic in each cat's stripe patterns!