Caged Bengal Tigers feel grass for the first time

Caged Bengal Tigers feel grass for the first time, Lionsrock, Four Paw International

Caged Bengal Tigers feel grass for the first time SourceL Lionsrock

For the first time in 15 years two adult Bengal Tigers have left their cage and gone out into the open, feeling the grass and the open air for the first time since they were abandoned by a circus in Argentina.

The circus asked a farmer to look after the animals temporarily but they never returned, resulting in the adult tigers being kept in the 75m² train carriage ever since that day.

The two giant and beautiful animals, an 18-year-old male and 15-year-old female, were left in the temporary carer of the farmer in 2007. Afraid of the authorities the famer kept them hidden away and locked up.

Perhaps more sad is that they had two cubs who have never known anything other than the cage in which they were born.

Following a report in the Sunday Times in South Africa, the animal charity Four Paws came to their rescue arranging for them to be flown to a wildlife sanctuary in the Free State Province. The animals are now in their new home at LIONSROCK Big Cat Sanctuary after 70 hours, including a long-haul flight and other travel.

The tigers will now live as normal a life as possible, far removed from the cramped conditions they found themselves abandoned in, but in what are strange surroundings. .

Four Paws was told that a travelling circus abandoned a now asking a local farmer to take care of them temporarily, only to never return. Their full story is however unknown.

Mission leader and Four Paws veterinarian Dr Amir Khalil said: “These tigers spent over 15 years in the same 75m² space, surrounded by the same landscape and without any stimulation of their instincts or natural behaviour.”

Now that ordeal is over. Sandro, Mafalda, Messi and Gustavo were safely moved to the sanctuary, just outside Bethlehem, on Saturday and have started roaming around.

This is the first rescue mission Four Paws has conducted in South America.

According to the organisation’s Daniel Born, Mafalda was a little hesitant to leave her crate, but Sandro, Messi and Gustavo “started to explore the new surroundings almost immediately”.

Khalil told the Sunday Times on Monday 14th that: “These tigers have never felt grass or earth under their paws. It’s the first time they can see the sky above them, not just metal bars and a roof. Now they have hundreds of square metres full of new feelings, tastes and smells. It is overwhelming for them to be in a completely new environment, but animals are quick at adapting to better living conditions.”

He added that the animals were “already curious, exploring their temporary adaptation enclosures and making careful first steps on the so far unfamiliar ground”.

“I am proud that we have brought all four tigers safely to South Africa. Now the mission is complete and I am handing them over into the care of my colleagues at LIONSROCK.”

However, a new home doesn’t mean the tigers will naturally adapt. Being cooped up in a space not much bigger than a quarter of a tennis court will have affected them and they’ll need time to get used to this next stage of their lives.

Hildegard Pirker, who manages LIONSROCK said: “The road to rehabilitation for these animals now begins.

“In the coming days and weeks, LIONSROCK will closely monitor the four tigers’ medical needs and determine the veterinary care they require.”

As these caged Bengal Tigers feel grass for the first time one can only wonder how people can be so cruel and so ignorant, at the same time laud those for their wonderful work in saving these four magnificent creatures.

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Written by

Peter McLaren-Kennedy

Originally from South Africa, Peter is based on the Costa Blanca and is a web reporter for the Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at