SAN ANTONIO – After a five-hour road trip from Southern Wildlife Rehab in San Antonio, Elsa the tiger is now at home at the Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch, one of the nation’s largest and most respected sanctuaries, in Murchison, located in Northeast Texas.
Noelle Almrud, CABBR’s director, said, “Elsa is doing amazingly well. She has settled in, she’s comfortable, she’s playing, she’s exploring.”
The six-month-old cub, weighing 79 pounds, also is now on a proper diet with more of the nutrients she needs.
She was being fed raw chicken that could have led to health issues later in life, Almrud said.
Elsa had lost some fur on her forehead from apparently rubbing her head on a cage, Almrud said, and the fur was worn down beneath the harness she had around her neck.
Almrud said she’s just grateful that Elsa was rescued just as frigid weather was bearing down.
“She could have frozen to death,” Almrud said.
Elsa is aptly named after the character in the movie “Frozen.”
Almrud said Elsa is luckier than most, given that the exotic animal trade in Texas is “alive and well.”
The Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch is an affiliate of the Humane Society of the United States, which is pushing for stricter state and federal laws.
Although it’s illegal to have a tiger in Bexar County, the people who had Elsa only face a misdemeanor.
But if the Big Cat Safety Act becomes law, it would be a federal offense, Almrud said.
Depending on the severity of the case, Almrud said it would involved hefty fines and possible jail time.
In Texas, SB 641 will be re-introduced this year that was stalled in committee during the last legislative session.
She said it would prohibit the private possession of dangerous wild animals that is still legal in much of Texas.
Almrud said the legislative effort to protect animals like Elsa needs more support from the public, so she’s encouraging anyone who can to contact their local lawmakers.
She said some believe they have the right to have animals like Elsa, who may have been a cub taken from her mother soon after she was born by a breeder.
Almrud asked, “What about the animal’s rights and the fact that it’s a living, breathing animal and it doesn’t want to be in captivity?”