Two Bengal tiger parents and their 2 cubs trapped in train carriage enclosure for years

Four Paws International have successfully rescued four Bengal tigers, two of which (the parents) had spent 15 years of captivity in a tight enclosure on a train carriage. The history is interesting and sad. In 2007 a circus troupe abandoned a male and female tiger in San Luis, Argentina.

Four Bengal tigers, two of which were trapped in a train carriage for 15 years, now freed
Four Bengal tigers, two of which were trapped in a train carriage for 15 years, now freed. Photo in public domain.

On a temporary basis, a local farmer was asked to take care of them but the animal's handler never returned to claim them. As a consequence, this male and female Bengal tiger were caged in a metal train carriage on the farmer's property.

The tigers were not sterilised. They bred. They produced two offspring who were born into captivity and remained in captivity until released with their parents by Four Paws International.

The train carriage was filthy, as expected, with leftover bones and meat. The tigers probably engaged in pacing which is a displacement activity due to the stress of being so tightly confined for so long.

The Argentina authorities became aware of the living conditions of the tigers in 2021. An investigation was launched and Four Paws International were brought in to assist in relocating the tiger family.

They were relocated to South Africa, a 70-hour plane ride away. A team of experienced veterinarians and wildlife experts were brought in to help with the logistics.

The family of tigers were taken to a South African sanctuary known as LIONSROCK Big Cat Sanctuary.

Released in their new sanctuary
Released in their new sanctuary. Photo: Four Paws International.

Four Paws International have a Facebook page and I am able, therefore, to embed a post from their Facebook page which shows the four being released into their new secretary. The four tigers have been named: Messi, Sandro, Mafalda and Gustavo.

Many people donated to make this extraordinary rescue and relocation possible. It seems that the tigers quite quickly settled in to their new surroundings. Four Paws International said in a Facebook post: "We are incredibly happy to see how well they are adapting to their new home."

In the coming days and weeks, the team of experts looking after them at LIONSROCK Big Cat Sanctuary will be closely monitoring the tigers to evaluate their medical needs and provide veterinary care as and when they need it. This will be a rehabilitating process after their 15 years of inappropriate captivity. They will have a decent life at last. The effort that went into this is extraordinary. It is peculiar that on the one hand we have this sort of tiger welfare and on the other in China there are brutal tiger farms. The world is very disjointed.

Postscript: the surplus to requirements tiger problem is prevalent across the world. I can remember the notorious Joe Exotic and his large private zoo, perhaps the largest private zoo in America at the time, and how he used to exploit tiger cubs and when they became adults, he had to 'park' them somewhere. He had to get rid of them somehow because they were a burden to him if they weren't earning money for him. When you exploit tigers, they have a lifespan when they can be commercialised. At the end of that commercial period of their lives they have to be disposed of. Most of them are killed. Some are parked as I have called it and in this case, there are parked in a train carriage.


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