Taz, the Bengal tiger, was used for the entertainment of tourists since his birth in 1998, reports The Dodo.He was taken from his mother at a very young age and taken to Noah's Land Wildlife Park in Hardwood, Texas. This place had a bad reputation for the way they treated their animals, even before Taz had arrived.Richard Burns, founder and owner of Noah's Land, was reported for 14 animal welfare violations in 1995, and that was only the beginning. There were financial issues, lacking veterinary care, inadequate food supply and malpractices of tiger breeding.
Denise Flores was a former park manager at Noah's Land. She told The Dodo that it was all about the money for the owner.
I didn't know any better. I started out not knowing very much about that kind of business.
The first time she went there, she heard tiny little voices screaming in a back room and asked the gift shop lady what it was. When she learned that they were baby tigers, Denise wondered why they weren't with their mother.The cubs weretaken away from their mothers when they're 5 days old, after which they were fed by humans with bottles and forced to take picture after picture with tourists. Flores became Taz's bottle-feeding mother after he was separated from his real mother.
After a few years, Noah's Land went out of business and everythingwasput up for auction, including the animals. Flores was at this point deeply attached to Taz and two other tigers whom she had hand raised.On the day of the auction, Flores showed potential buyers around the land, all the while telling them about her fears of sellingTaz and the other tigers.Flores didn't know that one particular woman was paying so much attention, but that woman bought every tiger that Flores had named at their respective auctions.When the woman found Flores at the end of the day, she told her she had a surprise. Flores was given the title deeds to three tigers - including Taz - she had bought them in Flores' name!Cheryl Morgan, another woman who was now the nez owner of the park, wanted Flores to stay and work for her, allowing her to keep her 3 tigers on the premises.But in 1999, Morgan went into a partnership with Wayne's World Safari in Mathis, Texas, and all the animals were transferred there as Noah's Land closed its doors.At their new home, Flores and Taz met Ticha.
We got a call from a vet's office over there and he said he had two baby tigers who had come in. They had been attacked by a Rottweiler. Whoever their owners were had a dog. You could buy a baby tiger so easily back then for a few hundred dollars.
The vet asked Flores and Morgan if they wanted to keep the two cubs - that's how Flores ended up with Ticha, the female Siberian tiger. Ticha couldn't ever reproduce because of her injuries from the dog attack, but Flores wasn't looking into breeding so she was okay with the news.Ticha and Taz clicked instantly.
Flores and her husband eventually retired and moved to Ohio, taking the two tigers with them. Here, they founded their own big cat rescue facility in Ashland, the Tiger Paws Exotic Rescue Center.Just before they were moved to their new home, Ticha and Taz gave their humans the most unexpected present ever: Ticha was pregnant! The doctor's prediction had been incorrect and they were starting a family. Flores couldn't believe it.
Only one of the four cubs survived, a female tiger named Katie.Taz was neutered to prevent any more surprises. The affection between him and Ticha was clear, even if Ticha was a bit of a bully. Flores said:
He cries like a baby when she's mean to him, yet they love each other.
However, in 2012, the Ohio Dangerous Wild Animal Act was passed, calling for stricter regulation on ownership. Unfortunately, Flores and her husband couldn't afford to keep up with the new regulations and were forced to give up their beloved tigers.Katie was separated from her parents and sent to a wildlife sanctuary in Oregon. Ticha and Taz were senttogether to Black Pine Animal Sanctuary in Indiana.Taz is now 19 and Ticha 18 years old. The spend their time cuddling and lazing around the sanctuary, happy to be in each other's company for the rest of their lives.