Tigra has been raised somewhere in California by someone that wanted to use her to make money in movies and commercials. This person really didn't know what he was doing, and as she got older Tigra became increasingly neurotic and unpredictable. She broke one of her upper canines and was finally shipped off to a rescue in Texas.
Though well intentioned, this rescue had taken in more cats (50) then they were able to handle. Many of the big cats were in small dog kennels (10 x 10) set up on concrete pads. The site was on the side of a mountain and there was not sufficient shelter from the cold, ice and wind. On top of all this, the manager that had been hired ran off with most of the operating money. The executive director of our facility had gone to help out with some issues and offered to take Tigra, the cat in the worst shape. Among other things, she was very underweight, had serious frostbite on her paws, she had an infected sore on her chin, and the broken canine was infected and inflamed.
Two years later Tigra now has gained quite a bit of weight, all her medical issues have cleared up, and she appears to be a happy and healthy girl living in a 2400 square foot enclusure. She still shows some neurotic and unpredictable behavior and no one is allowed direct contact, though we do play with her by running around outside the pen. As an example, when I built her den box she would charge and roar every time I carried in a piece of plywood. Even though she was safely in the shift cage at the time, it is still a big unsettling to have a tiger charge you.
Willie was a different, and a bit more typical, rescue. He was at a mini golf course as part of little zoo. When the golf course shut down Willie and his companion, Lily, had to be moved quickly. (We got the call on Wednesday and they had to be moved by Tuesday the next week or be euthanized.) The local vet, not familiar with tigers, sedated them both for transport. Willie came though the trip OK, but Lily did not do well and died shortly after arriving. Willie had grown up with her and was very depressed for a while. Now he seems to be eyeing Tigra next door and they talk to each other. The plan is to build an extension on Tigra's pen and try to introduce them soon. (Willie is currently housed in a 2000+ square foot pen which is intended to hold the facility's cougars, which are temporarily at a facility in Georgia.)
Unlike in the wild, tigers do quite well in pairs or small groups in captivity. They are calmer and appear much happier this way and actually seek out attention from care takers, playing like domestic cats. For safety reasons, we don't go in the cage with either of the tigers, though we have protocols and experience should this be necessary (as it was to remove Lily's body.)
more info athttp://www.conservatorscenter.org