London, 19 May 2023 – An expert team from global animal welfare organisation FOUR PAWS rescued two tigers from an illegal private breeding farm in Balcarce in the Buenos Aires province in Argentina together with the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development on 18 May. The urgent rescue of the two big cats from neglect and inappropriate keeping conditions was conducted with joint efforts of the police and authorities during a one-day action.
As there are currently no places locally that can permanently host tigers in a species-appropriate environment, the authorities asked FOUR PAWS for help with their rescue and relocation. The team is currently en route to bring the tigers to Al Ma’wa for Nature and Wildlife in Jordan, a sanctuary FOUR PAWS runs together with the Princess Alia Foundation.
Once the rescue mission kicked off, the authorities officiated the confiscation of the animals and handover into the care of FOUR PAWS. While the 18-year-old tiger, was led into the crate by his former owner, who cooperated throughout the rescue, under the supervision of FOUR PAWS, the veterinary experts anaesthetised the five-year-old one. After they were safely in their transport crates, the sedation was reversed as the younger tiger also needed to be awake during the transport for its safety and well-being. They were transported to the airport in Buenos Aires and departed via plane towards Jordan, where they are expected to arrive on 20 May.
Following a court order to conduct the rescue that required immediate action, the FOUR PAWS team was unable to perform a veterinary check of the tigers prior to and during the rescue. Once they have arrived safely in Jordan and adjusted to the new surroundings, they will undergo a thorough health examination to treat any existing conditions and tailor their future care.
“When we arrived at the former breeding farm, we found both tigers in poor physical condition. They have been severely neglected and are underweight, as are in need of urgent treatment for apparent physical conditions. Their enclosures were dirty and unsafe. Due to safety reasons, we could not perform a health check on the tigers before the rescue. The 18-year-old tiger is at a higher risk for complications because of his age, but fortunately, we could safely send both tigers on their way to Jordan. Once they arrive at their new home they can recover from their past ordeal, finally learn how to live a tiger-worthy life and receive all the care they need,” says FOUR PAWS veterinarian Dr Amir Khalil, who led the rescue mission.
Finding sustainable solutions to improve animal welfare in Argentina
The keeping of exotic and non-indigenous animals is illegal in Argentina for private persons. Based on the current regulations, all big cats should live in natural reserves, however, enforcing the laws is difficult for the authorities, as they rarely receive reports on them. FOUR PAWS estimates there are at least 200 big cats living in suboptimal conditions and in need of help in Argentina.
“We welcome the joint efforts with the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development to make this rescue possible. FOUR PAWS is willing to share our expertise in creating species-appropriate long-term solutions for captive big cats in the country. We look forward to building upon these important developments by contributing to the future of the animal welfare discourse and agenda in Argentina and beyond, thereby improving the lives of as many animals as possible in a sustainable way.”
Luciana D’Abramo, Chief Development Officer at FOUR PAWS.
Al Ma’wa for Nature and Wildlife: A home for rescued wild animals in Jordan
Al Ma’wa for Nature and Wildlife was established in 2011 as a partnership between FOUR PAWS and the Princess Alia Foundation. It provides a regional solution for rescued wild animals and offers emergency relief to animals from crisis areas in the Middle East. The sanctuary functions as a lifelong home for rescued big cats, bears, wolves and hyenas, as well as for a number of primates, birds and reptiles that were kept in inadequate conditions in zoos, circuses or private captivity. The environment created for the animals offers highest standards with regards to species-appropriate and spacious living conditions, veterinary care and security.
In 2022, FOUR PAWS successfully conducted its first-ever rescue mission South America: The rescue of four tigers, who spent over 15 years stuck in a train carriage in Argentina, and their transfer to LIONSROCK Big Cat Sanctuary in South Africa. Read their story here.