Former Dutch tiger trade victim finds a happy ending

2019-04-01 11:30
Caruso safely transferred back to Lionsrock, Johannesburg. (Supplied, Four Paws Animal Welfare Organisation)

Caruso safely transferred back to Lionsrock, Johannesburg. (Supplied, Four Paws Animal Welfare Organisation)

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A former Dutch tiger trade victim has finally found a happy ending after a successful transfer to the Lionsrock Big Cat Sanctuary near Johannesburg on Friday.

"Twelve-year-old Caruso was born in a German safari park and traded to a circus, where he was raised by hand until he was two years old and ended up in a rescue centre in the Netherlands," spokesperson for international animal welfare organisation Four Paws, MJ Lourens, said in a statement on Sunday.

"Until Four Paws took over, all he knew was pain, stress and boredom. But thanks to the special care at the Four Paws-owned big cat centre, Felida, Caruso recovered from his past suffering and found his forever home at Lionsrock." 

Read: Gaza's 'horror' zoo: 40 animals to be evacuated

What was described as the cat's biggest journey, was completed without complications, the organisation said.

"We are so proud of this brave tiger. His transfer went without complications and Caruso can now adjust to his new environment and relax.

"He had a tough start in life but developed into a friendly and playful tiger. Seeing him in Lionsrock is everything we could have wished for," Four Paws big cat expert Barbara van Genne said.


Caruso is his new surroundings (Image: Four Paws)

The 12-year-old tiger was found at a Dutch rescue centre where he was confined to a small cage in "inappropriate keeping conditions and [a] victim to inadequate care".

Four Paws took over the centre in 2013 and renamed it Felida Big Cat Centre which contributed to the growth and improvement in little Caruso.

"Back then, Caruso showed symptoms of stress and stereotypical behaviour, but with the special care provided at Felida, he improved massively.

"He underwent several surgeries to relieve him of severe dental pain. Four Paws provided Caruso with more space and a small pool and he happily took naps on his new platforms and played with his enrichment frequently," Lourens said.

Caruso is said to be adapting well to the new environment.


(Image: Four Paws)

The tiger is currently being monitored and will be released in a one-hectare enclosure following evaluation. That is where it will be joining two other tigers that were transferred years before him.

"We are extremely excited that he has arrived and to offer him more space to live the rest of his life," head of the animal welfare department at Lionsrock, Hildegard Pirker, said.

"Caruso was very confident and looked relaxed throughout his trip; from arriving at OR Tambo airport until his release at Lionsrock. In only a second he got out of his transport crate and a few seconds later Caruso took his first bath."


(Image: Four Paws)

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