After more than 100 years, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey’s Circus ended its run in May and hundreds of lions and tigers seemed free of harm and exploitation.
But as quickly as their freedom came it was gone!
When Feld Entertainment, the circus owners, applied for a federal permit. If granted they would be permitted to take 16 of the big cats to Europe. In Europe, they would be sent to Zirkus Crone, a circus in Munich that’s had its own share of abuse cases — including claims that many of the circus’ animals are suffering from arthritis and mental distress and are chained up in pens. The company kept the fate of the 16 remaining cats still held by the Feld family in the U.S. a secret until now.
Eleven female tigers and five males have been surrendered to Tiger Haven, a big cat sanctuary in Tennessee. The tigers will be able to live out the rest of their lives on the 45-acre sanctuary, where at least 250 other big cats have found comfortable lives as well.
Tiger Haven was founded by Joe and Mary Lynn Parker and is accredited by the American Sanctuary Association. The sancutary has taken in cats from the Ringling Bros. circus before. The facility is not open to the public and does not display its animals for entertainment or use them for breeding.
“Tiger Haven is a Sanctuary and Rescue facility for big cats, much like an animal shelter for dogs and house cats – except that we are a ‘no kill’ facility,” the website states. “And the cats that come here for sanctuary are given a permanent home. They are not sold, transferred or given away. We do not use them as ‘breeders,’ and they don’t work for a living. The cats here enjoy the good life, and they deserve it.”
The 258 cats living at Tiger Haven all have room to run and are fed, on average, 2,000 pounds of meat a day.
“The Ringling cats are doing wonderfully,” Cheryl Haddad, Tiger Haven’s office manager “They’re certainly enjoying retirement.
Big cats were never meant to live in small cages, which is why a bill was introduced to prohibit personal ownership of them. Now that the last show was performed, Ringling Bros. and an enlightened public are finally giving up on the outdated notion that it’s acceptable to use endangered species as entertainment props, “After spending years being carted around in cramped transport cages for 50 weeks of the year, it’s time for Ringling and trainer Alexander Lacey to let these tigers live out their lives at a reputable sanctuary where they can experience the space,