By Kevin Heath
Two tigers sentenced to an early death in Belgium have arrived at a UK zoo and wildlife park. the two tigers had been kept at a German circus and so badly treated that last year Belgium authorities seized the tigers while the circus was on tour and sentenced the tigers to euthanasia.
A campaign by animal charity Wildlife Re-homing services to save the tigers resulted in the Woodside Wildlife and Falconry Park in Lincolnshire agreeing to take in and look after the 2 tigers. For the last 6 months the wildlife park have been preparing for the tigers arrival including the building of an enclosure and training of staff in how to look after the big cats.
The tigers are an 18-year-old male called Tango – who starred in the Esso ‘tiger in your tank’ TV ad campaign – and an 8-year-old female called Julia.
It has taken over six months and £250,000 to secure their future, but Mr Mumby, the parks director, said that it had been worth the cost.
“There are no other tigers in Lincolnshire on view to the public, it’s great for the people of Lincolnshire to be able to come and learn about them,” he said.
It has not been easy with all the bureaucracy that is involved in transporting tigers and officials from three different governments – the UK, France and Belgium – had to get involved to cut through the paperwork.
Mr Mumby said: “The paperwork has been a nightmare. It was delayed, these tigers were supposed to be coming a few days ago. We’ve got the Belgian government, the French government and the British Government all involved. Trying to get all of the government departments to talk to each other can sometimes cause hiccups.”
Even with governments and campaigners working hard to rehome the tigers, the cats run of bad luck seems to have continued right up to the last moments of their rescue. The tigers got caught up in the French Calais strikes and their cross-channel trip became delayed.
The tigers are now safe in their new home in Lincolnshire.
Belgium voted in December to ban the use of wild animals in circuses and any performing animals must be on a ‘white-list’ of species. The white-list method was used so that circuses could not introduce new wild species in to acts that where not on a black-list of species. Belgium’s new legislation means only domesticated animals such as horses, dogs and pigs can be used in performances.