ALPINE– Lions Tigers and Bears, San Diego’s only non-profit accredited big cat, bear and exotic animal rescue sanctuary is home to a 500 pound tiger named Maverick. The tiger arrived at the sanctuary in April 2014, after the tiger was seized by authorities in Los Angeles.
It is illegal to possess a tiger without proper permits in the state of California, authorities say.
Fish and Wildlife officials reached out to LTB to provide the tiger with care, while an investigation unfolded to identify the owner.
Bobbi Brink, Founder/Director states “It is our(LTB’s) mission to rescue and provide a safe haven and permanent home to exotic animals who’ve either been surrendered by private owners or confiscated by Fish & Wildlife authorities. When Fish and Wildlife called us and asked us to take in Maverick, we immediately agreed. At the time, due to the investigation, we were not allowed to talk about Maverick or where he came from.”
Two years and a federal investigation later, Maverick now calls LTB his permanent home and sanctuary officials say he is thriving.
Though many videos and photos available on the internet showed Maverick with the rap star, officials were not confident they could prove Tyga actually owned Maverick and hold him financially responsible for Maverick’s care.
Brink states, “Sadly, Maverick’s story is all too common, bought as a cub, used as a photo prop, and then quickly discarded. We have never met or spoken to Maverick’s previous owner, and we have no reason to do so, unless of course they want to. Our only concern is giving him, and all of our rescued animals, the best quality of life as possible.”
It costs a minimum of $10,000 a year to care for a big cat, like Maverick, or a bear at LTB. Right now in the U.S. there are more tigers being kept in captivity than there are left in the wild. The exotic animal trade is the fourth largest illegal international industry, just behind illegal arms, drugs and human trafficking.