A tiny rusty old cage is no place for any wild animal to live, let alone a full grown tiger. Sadly, that’s exactly where a beautiful tiger named Hoover was forced to live his life as part of a traveling circus in Peru.
While the details of Hoover’s early life remain mostly unknown, it’s believed that he was originally part of a group of 6-12 tigers that the circus used in their shows. By the time his rescuers got to him, he was the last remaining one. Over the past twelve years of his life he had been mistreated, abused, and forced to perform tricks. When he wasn’t being openly exploited he was kept locked up in a cramped cage day in and day out, always on the move. He needed help fast or he would die.
Life was anything but natural and comfortable for Hoover. His captors brought him from one town to the next where he was allowed out only for shows. His cage was completely inadequate for such a large, majestic tiger and barely allowed him any room to move around. He spent the days pacing back and forth in the hot, dusty, stale air with nothing to stimulate his mind or play with. All he had was a dusty floor to lay on that was surrounded by metal bars and dirt. There was no real shelter overhead to protect him from the elements and the neglectful state he was held in was horrendous.
The circus that Hoover was found with had been on the run for eight months before authorities caught up with them. For years a number of travelling circuses had operated in Peru using wild animals in their shows. The country recently changed the law and passed a circus animal ban in response to widespread cruelty, abuse, and sub-par conditions in which most circus animals were kept. The ban made it illegal to keep or use animals in circus shows and authorities have been working alongside animal advocacy non-profits, like Animal Defenders International (ADI), to strictly enforce it. Thanks to a tip from the public they’d received, ADI was able to stage a surprise raid on the circus and recover Hoover.
They immediatley took him to their resuce center in Peru and threw open the cage door to let him out and taste freedom for the first time. This video captures the moment he was finally released from his life of abuse and neglect. For the first time in perhaps all of his 12 years he was able to fully stretch out and do the one action that all cats seem to love! After his stretch he cautiously headed through the door and out into the temporary holding pen, where he stepped onto soft green grass. The grass on the bottom of his paws must have felt so strange and yet wonderful.
The veterinarians at ADI checked him out and found he was sick and emaciated. After months of rehab the big tiger was restored back to full health and once he was given the all clear, he was ready to head to his new forever home at Big Cat Rescue (BCR) in Florida. Getting a full grown tiger from Peru to America is no small operation. It took a full year before the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service finally gave its approval and only then did Hoover’s road trip begin. The journey involved multiple trucks and transfers before he was secured into a cargo plane for the final leg of his trip. Vets and caretakers monitored his health closely to ensure he was safe and comfortable every step of the way.
When he finally touched down and arrived at the BCR facility he was released into his new enclosure to check it all out. His new habitat is worlds away from the cramped barren cage he was held in, it’s filled with an abundance of plants, trees, grasses, and other greenery. There’s also platforms to rest on in the sunshine and a lake to swim and cool off in on the premises. Check out the clip to see Hoover exploring his new digs, drinking from the lake, walking among the trees, and sniffing at the ground. From the looks of it, he loves the water and couldn’t be happier!
Hoover will live out the rest of his life at BCR where he’s free to wander about his new habitat completely unchained. He no longer faces a life full of uncertainty and constant travel, there are no more people gawking at him, or trainers abusing him. Instead, he finally has the chance to spend his final years among other tigers, in the wild where he’s protected and able to move about on his own, and that is beautiful.
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