A Hard Lesson Learned

Tiger Story

By Alan Trimble, January 2008

My lesson learned recently concerns the preservation of exotic critters we have in our country and the efforts that are being made by some folks, to preserve them for our future generations. Without the efforts of these dedicated people–many of the animals we enjoy -- will not be around for our kids and grandkids to enjoy.

My experience concerns a Bengal tiger moving into my neighborhood. He was going to be my next door neighbor. Needless to say, I was angered about that possibility-- all I had ever know about the animal was that he was a meat eating killer and very dangerous to have around. My business is ranching and I had visions of that critter—escaping from his homemade chicken coup and doing great harm to me, my family or my neighbors and the cattle. Their safety was uppermost in my mind.

I had no experience being with this kind of situation—But-- made the decision to fight to keep it and its owner from becoming my neighbor. I wondered what kind of a “Nut” would want such an animal in their back yard. I saw it as a real threat to me, my friends, and neighbors. I talked to my neighborhood for a mile around, law enforcement, the legal folks. I circulated a petition—everyone agreeing-- that we didn’t need such a critter in our mist. I left no stone unturned—to include legal action-- in my effort to bar it from my community. I had visions of the animal escaping and hurting or killing someone. Yes—we would kill the critter but it would be after the fact and the damage would be done. I though what a price to be paid for having such a man-eating killer among us.

I did not know the owner at the time or what the motives were for having such an animal. I was completely uneducated of the whole effort that was behind the owner’s intentions to educate and do her part to preserve for future generations. All my efforts and those of others failed.

The Chateau Safari facility was built and Tristan—the tiger—arrived at his new home in late 05. (editor’s note – see Nov/Dec 2005 FCF Journal – Volume 49 Issue 5 pg 22 Tristan’s Tale on your FCF/LIOC Archives DVD).

The facility—expensive and first class in every way—has been inspected by State Game and Fish and USDA receiving the highest safety ratings awarded. (editor’s note – Chateau Safari was the first FCF accredited facility – see Jan/Feb 2007 Volume 51 Issue 1 First Facility Earns Accreditation page 51)

Jean (my wife) and I have met with Gail, the owner of “Tristan.” We have discussed Gail’s aspirations for the future of large, exotic, feline animals. The Chicken Coup—as I had envisioned it in the beginning—is a facility that anyone would be proud of. I feel confident the escape odds for Tristan are very low.

I don’t think I have ever met a person as devoted to the care of an animal as Gail is to that Tiger.

I hope that Gail will forgive me for my lack of understanding and knowledge; continue her good work, and most important of all—be my friend for my remaining years.

I’m truly sorry for my efforts-- in the beginning—to keep them from our community.

My lesson learned here is---Don’t be so quick to judge or deprive ones freedoms or their property rights—until all the facts are in.

Reprinted with permission from the Feline Conservation Federation Journal Volume 52, issue 1, 2008

Photo Copyright © Gail Laviola