Tiger Cub Rescued From Dog-Sized Cage In Closet Is Ecstatic To Finally Run And Play

The Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center in Arizona houses many animals, including javelinas, wolves and coyotes, who call the Sonoran Desert home. So when staff members got a call that a baby bengal tiger, an animal who typically lives in forests and swamps, was headed to their facility, they were surprised.

“Getting a tiger is highly unusual,” Jamie Haas Oliver, Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center marketing and development manager, told The Dodo. “And the story on how we got her is unusual as well.”

tiger playing with toy

Police found the little animal after flagging a suspicious post online advertising a baby tiger for sale. According to Fox 10, when officials arrived at the suburban address listed in the post, they were shocked to find the tiger tucked in a closet, locked inside a cage that was “the size of a dog kennel.”

Since the tiger is considered evidence in an ongoing legal case involving the state, officials determined that she had to live within state borders for now. Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center, which maintains a positive relationship with the Arizona Game and Fish Department and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, was deemed the best temporary fit.

Soon after being discovered, the little tiger was transported out of her dangerous situation into the safety of her short-term home.

tiger in crate

Once at the center, the 4-week-old tiger was placed in a large enclosure, where she had plenty of room to grow — and grow she did. The tiger put on about 10 pounds a week and already looks so different than when she first arrived in January.

tiger playing

The big cat, who’d spent her infancy cooped up in a tiny space, was ecstatic when she got to the center and realized she could run and play. She especially loves anything involving water.

“She’s often doing watersports,” Oliver said. “She likes to sit in her little water tubs that we have out there for her [and] bat balls around just like your housecat would, although she’s absolutely not a housecat.”

Staff members aren’t sure how long the tiger will be in their care, as the case is still ongoing, but they’re happy to have her for as long as she needs. Once released, the tiger will move to a sanctuary in a location that’s even better suited for her to thrive.

For now, this growing tiger is making the most of her time in the desert, and playing lots of watersports along the way.

To help other animals like this tiger, make a donation to Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center.