A rescued tiger’s first summer at our animal sanctuary

By on August 10, 2021 with 14 Comments

There are many things we can learn from animals, but one thing that never fails to move me to my core is their resilience. Whether it’s witnessing the dogs learn to play after being saved from dog meat farms in South Korea or seeing my own rescue dog Lilly frolicking in the grass, I’ve always admired the extraordinary ability of animals to overcome hardship and experience joy.

Two tigers who we rescued this year and brought to live at Black Beauty Ranch, our 1,400-acre animal sanctuary in Murchison, Texas, epitomize such resilience.

Elsa splashing around and staying cool in the summer heat. The HSUS

Elsa and India were both victims of the exotic pet trade. When they were first rescued by local authorities, these tigers bore the signs of living in completely unnatural conditions. Elsa, who was just 6 months old when she was heard crying in San Antonio during the Texas freeze in February, was wearing a dog harness. India, who was 9 months old when found, was understandably skittish after being chased by police in a suburban Houston neighborhood where he’d gotten loose in May.

Local authorities and the staff at Black Beauty Ranch worked in collaboration to bring the two tigers to the sanctuary, where they could enjoy the safety and joy of sanctuary life. This collaborative relationship between local law enforcement and the sanctuary has helped to bring about the best possible outcome for animals who would otherwise have no place to go.

Just a few months later, as they enjoy their first summer at the sanctuary, it’s amazing to witness just how far they’ve come.

India stays cool in the summer heat by splashing around in his very own pool. The HSUS

Elsa was recently spotted lounging in a tub of cooling water, surrounded by fresh grass. And our cameras caught India playing with the waterspout in his very own pool. “India is fascinated with the waterspout,” Black Beauty senior director Noelle Almrud observed.

Elsa and India are following in the positive footsteps of Loki, a tiger found caged up in a garage in Houston in 2019, who was seen recently in an iconic image of summer laziness, lounging in his hammock, a comfy resting spot made from a donated firehose.

Loki, who was rescued in 2019, lounging in his hammock at Black Beauty Ranch. Maura Flaherty/Black Beauty Ranch

Even though the nearly 800 animals at the sanctuary aren’t generally equipped to return to the wild, the staff at Black Beauty Ranch goes to incredible lengths to give them the settings that feel most natural to them and that stimulate their minds and bodies— something that, had India and Elsa remained in the tiger pet trade, they never would have experienced.

These images of India and Elsa’s first summer at Black Beauty Ranch go beyond being utterly adorable—which, of course, they are. These pictures of joy show the kinds of lives that all animals victimized by the exotic pet trade truly deserve.

You can help tigers like Elsa and India by advocating for a law against owning big cats as pets. You can also donate to Black Beauty Ranch or send the sanctuary something from its wish list.

Animal Rescue and Care, Wildlife/Marine Mammals

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  1. Darla Alexander says:

    This story and the accompanying photos warm my heart. I am reminded that Cleveland Amory’s Black Beauty Ranch is also the burial site of the curmudgeonly but bighearted Mr Amory and his beloved cat Polar Bear. I read all three books Amory wrote about that transforming human/animal relationship. I know in 1967 Mr Amory established The Fund for Animals which is now merging with HSUS, and I think he would be pleased that the legacy continues stronger than ever.

    • Cecilie Davidson says:

      Cleveland Amory’s books are indeed wonderful reminders of the great bond with animals that some of us humans are privileged to attain. Yes, I feel sure he would be pleased that his work is flourishing ever more.

  2. Henning Bauer says:

    This is wonderful to see—although it also makes my heart heavy to think of all the creatures still suffering far from such peace and joy. They’re in my thoughts every day, and I hope they can all still be saved and treated with the love and respect they deserve.

  3. Robert F. Bolland says:

    In re the “tigers”, you folks “done good”. Keep it up.


  4. Pat Froelich says:

    Cleveland Amory’s books about Polar Bear were the most human animal books that I have ever read. To this day when I think of Polar Bear I cry! He was an exceptional human being!

  5. Ola says:

    Thank you for all you do for these beautiful animals. In my eyes, y’all are

  6. Felizitas Müller says:

    Vielen Dank für diese wunderbare und wahre Geschichte. Es tut gut, auch einmal einen positiven Bericht zwischen all dem schrecklichen Leid und grauenvollen Bildern von gequälten Tieren zu bekommen !
    Ich bin froh, dass ich mich entschieden habe, Ihre Organisation zu unterstützen.
    Alles Gute !

  7. Louise Stewart says:

    Will any of the tigers be able to interact with each other?

    • Blog Editor says:

      Thank you for your commment. Tigers are solitary in the wild and typically don’t want to interact with other tigers. All of our tigers can see each other through fence lines and no one has shown any indication that they are interested in getting to know their neighbors.

  8. Teri Turet says:

    I am so happy to see India doing so well. I live in the area where he was being held and our neighborhoods were on high alert that day before police or media were called. My initial thought and the same that remains to this day is that this is not okay, it’s not fair to have animals like this cooped up in a home as a house pet just because they are pretty and wanting to have something different from any other house pet. He deserves better. India left many of us here in Houston with an everlasting heart for him. Keep sharing the wonderful updates!

  9. Gary R. says:

    Why is there so little water in India’s “pool”? Hardly seems like a pool if it’s only a quarter full of water.

    Also, how often are they cleaned and how often does the water get replaced with all clean water? I realize that the water will look dirty 5 minutes after they get in it, that’s why I’m asking how often they get all new water. Thanks and I hope my monthly donation helps.

    • Blog Editor says:

      Thank you for your comment. Tigers love to soak, splash and play in pools but typically don’t swim around and therefore don’t need pools the size we humans are accustomed to. Animal caregivers at Black Beauty Ranch fill up the tiger’s pools ¾ of the way full and drain and refill the water daily. All of our tigers also have separate areas for drinking water so they don’t drink the splash pool water if it’s dirty from them playing in it.

  10. Joan Welte says:

    Please keep up the wonderful work that you are doing. The animals truly appreciate your kindness and compassion and what you have done to save their lives!! You can tell that they are happier than they have ever been in captivity.

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