Lions And Zoos

4 tigers rescued from Argentina find new home in South Africa

Four Bengal tigers rescued from years of captivity in a wagon in Argentina have been released into open-air enclosures in South Africa

BETHLEHEM, South Africa –– Four Bengal tigers rescued from years of captivity in a wagon in Argentina have been released into open enclosures in South Africa.

After a journey of more than 70 hours from Argentina, the tigers are released from their crates into outdoor enclosures at Lionsrock Big Cat Sanctuary in South Africa‘s Central Free State Province.

Visibly curious about their new homes, the tigers quickly paced the boundaries of their fenced areas, approximately 80 square meters (yards), and ate pieces of meat presented as a welcome treat.

The tigers’ arrival in South Africa on Saturday was the culmination of years of planning by the international animal welfare organization Four Paws, said chief of mission and veterinarian Dr Amir Khalil.

“I was more excited than the tigers,” he said, adding that the cats were expected to be reluctant to come out of their containers. “But they came out immediately. They wanted to experience the place, smell the weed, taste it.”

He said the activity of the tigers showed that they intended to “defend, to secure a new place. So they need time now to calm down, and they still have a long way to go to discover the region and the new territory.

The tigers are currently kept in pairs in two separate enclosures, a plan that appears to have gone well so far.

Over the coming weeks and months, the tigers will be monitored and given all necessary veterinary care, he said.

“We’re going to start coming here often and feeding them, getting them used to all of our staff and keepers so they get to know our routine and when they start to relax,” he said.

The next step will be to release the tigers into larger multi-hectare enclosures, said Hildegard Pirker, manager of the Lionsrock Sanctuary, where more than 100 lions, leopard tigers and a cheetah live.

All enclosures include open grassland with bushes and trees and protected natural areas where the animals can rest and shelter from the elements, according to Lionsrock. The enclosures are circular in shape and follow the natural shape of the land so that the cats do not feel in a corner.