National Tiger Sanctuary in The Spotlight
National Tiger Sanctuary recently rescued five big cats from the performing industry. Branson magician Kirby VanBurch agreed to donate his animals and will no longer be using exotic cats in his act. National Tiger Sanctuary provided a home for VanBurch’s lion, Merlin, in 2011. Three tigers and two leopards will join Merlin at National Tiger Sanctuary, where they can live out their life in the great outdoors. Previously, the cats were housed inside without access to grass or direct sunlight.
Although the cats have been moved successfully, that is only the beginning for National Tiger Sanctuary.
After the cats have adjusted to their new environment, they will need permanent habitats constructed. National Tiger Sanctuary estimates that this will cost $75-100,000. The new habitats will include night houses, climbing perches, and swimming pools for the tigers.
Additionally, National Tiger Sanctuary has to provide medical care for the aging animals, which are between eight and twelve years old. The leopards will receive special attention for skin conditions and hair loss. Furthermore, all five cats have been declawed, which can cause arthritis, back problems, discomfort, and lameness. The three tigers are already displaying problems with their feet from being declawed and walking on hard surfaces. All the animals will also require routine veterinary care, such as vaccinations and vitamin supplements.
The five new cats will cause a 20% increase in the amount of food that National Tiger Sanctuary will need to acquire and prepare each day. In the next year, NTS will use over 80,000 pounds of raw meat to feed their big cats.
NTS is looking forward to getting to know the new animals and supports VanBurch’s decision to remove big cats from his show. Now, there will be no big cats performing in Branson, and National Tiger Sanctuary believes that is a positive step for animals and the city. Many countries have recently made it illegal to use exotic animals in performances and Pay For Play operations due to animal welfare concerns.
National Tiger Sanctuary is a non-profit organization that is dedicated to exemplary animal care and environmental education. NTS has been involved in many big cat rescues, including the rescue of a white tiger featured on National Geographic’s show Animal Intervention. If you’d like to help support the animals, donations can be made to NTS via PayPal, phone, or mail. Donations are tax-deductible. Tours of the sanctuary take place Wednesday-Sunday at 10 am,1 pm, or 3 pm. Contact National Tiger Sanctuary at 417-587-3633 or www.nationaltigersanctuary.org
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National Tiger Sanctuary
518 State Highway BB
Saddlebrooke, MO 65630