A male tiger cub found wandering the suburbs outside of Paris was rescued after witnesses contacted the police. Authorities had already been on the lookout for the little one after finding photos of him on the phone of a man arrested on the suspicion of dealing drugs. According to Europe 1 radio, the cub’s caretaker would let clients snap a selfie for the small price of five euros.
Unlike in the United States, where backyards house more tigers than in the wild, owning a tiger is illegal in France. Authorities searched diligently for the little cub until he was found wandering the streets.
Custody of the cub was then handed over to Tonga Terre d’Accueil, a sanctuary for abandoned big cats and primates, where he was given the name Tonga.
It’s unknown where Tonga came from, but because he spent most of his young life around humans, he’s very friendly and playful towards his caretakers. At Terre d’Accueil, Tonga will have the chance to live with other rescued tigers, starting with an older tigress named Asia.
Good luck learning how to be a tiger, Tonga!
We’re so happy that little Tonga was rescued from a life of unnatural interaction with humans, but unfortunately, not all tigers get a happy ending. It’s completely legal to keep tigers and other exotic animals as pets in many states across the U.S. In fact, there’s a rough estimate that there are about 7,000 tigers living in backyards. Not only are they kept as pets, some are put on display at roadside attractions and because of their small size, tiger cubs are unfortunately forced to pose for photos with guests, sometimes for hours on end without any contact with their mothers. Yes, the cubs are cute — but that’s no excuse for how they’re treated. What happens once they grow up and suddenly, they’re not so cuddly? They often end up dead, abandoned, or surrendered. It’s a sad, revolting life that no living creature should have to experience.
What can we do? First, if you ever come across a photo opp with a tiger — or any exotic animal, for that matter — don’t do it. Often times, these facilities will carry a false message of conservation, using the tigers for “educational” purposes. But, don’t be fooled. The main priority of these roadside attractions is one thing only and that’s living their own wallets.
Hopefully, one day soon, the United States will make keeping big cats as pets illegal. Then, more tigers, like Tonga, will be able to have a happy ending.
In-text image source: Terre d’Accueil
Lead image source: AFP