Train Tiger

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Stuck in a train carriage for 15 years

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Trapped in a train carriage located in San Luis, a region in the heart of Argentina

By February 2022, through the bars of their cages, four tigers had watched the sunrise over the meadow more than 5,000 times. Freedom had always been right in front of them, yet so far away.

The cages were barely larger than the size of two parking spaces and were part of an old train carriage – unfit for any animal. In the beginning, it was only two of them. Then two cubs were born, who are 10 years old today. They were trapped behind bars in dirty conditions, with little space to move on a train wagon – which has been stood still since then.

We had a very short window of opportunity to rescue them and to show these majestic big cats that they deserve better. We worked hard on issuing the permits with the authorities and gave our best to plan out the mission despite logistical obstacles.

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April 2022

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Bigger and better!

It’s been less than three weeks since the four Bengal tigers left their steel transport crates and stepped onto grass for the first time at our LIONSROCK Big Cat Sanctuary. This comes after more than 15-years confined to a train carriage in Argentina. We are so happy to see that Mafalda, Gustavo, Messi, and Sandro are adapting well to their species-appropriate home! This week Mafalda and Gustavo were released into a larger enclosure while Messi and Sandro’s enclosure was opened to include the space previously occupied by the other two tigers. Watch our brand-new video and experience yet another ‘first’ in the lives of these very special tigers who continue to amaze us!

March 2022
Tiger Mafalda relaxes in her enclosure after being released at LIONSROCK Big Cat Sanctuary

A picture says more than 1000 words...

Look at these relaxed tigers. We are over the moon how greatly they are adapting to their new home. The big cats even tried out to snack some gras. They have hundreds of square meters full of new feelings, tastes and smells now. What an overwhelming experience this must be for them...In the coming days and weeks, our team at LIONSROCK Big Cat Sanctuary will closely monitor the four Bengal tigers, evaluate their medical needs, and provide the veterinary care they require and finally deserve. The road to rehabilitation now begins!

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Welcome home Messi, Sandro, Mafalda and Gustavo

The moments we’ve been waiting for: The tigers who lived in a train carriage their whole lives and now get a second chance in life. Look at those first moments, stepping onto green grass, seeing the sky all the time. Not surrounded by metal anymore. We are so proud of their strength during this long journey. Everyone who donated and shared their story – this is for you! Without your support, this wouldn’t be possible! Enjoy these moments with us and let’s celebrate the team who were side by side with the tigers throughout this rescue mission!

Landed in Amsterdam!

Landed in Amsterdam! 

Not much to report, but most importantly: The four tigers are feeling good. Our team checked on them and all seems fine. A big thank you to KLM and the crew on board for facilitating this flight from Buenos Aires to Amsterdam and next one to Johannesburg. There is an overall excitement in the air and we will be relieved when this long journey is over.

Next stop: South Africa!
 Stay tuned for the much-awaited release moments!

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Don’t cry for them, Argentina! 

After almost 15 hours on the road our team finally made it to Buenos Aires. Messi, Sandro, Mafalda and Gustavo were brought to the cargo area of the airport and are now being loaded onto the plane. Our crew accompanying them is flying with the tigers first to Amsterdam and then onwards to Johannesburg. Soft floors, air holes, and water containers have been put in their crates and we will check on the animals during the flight layover to make sure they are fine.
Now they are off to South Africa, 
where they will find a species-appropriate home at our LIONSROCK Big Cat Sanctuary and set their paws on grass for the first time ever! We can’t wait to witness this moment!

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And the journey begins... 

It is a big day for the family of four tigers: Dr Amir Khalil and his team succeeded to get the big cats into the transport crates and onto a truck. The road trip from the heart of Argentina to the capital of this beautiful country is over 700km long. Several stops are scheduled to check on the tigers, give them water and provide the four big cats with tasty snacks.
Stay tuned for the next updates of this rescue mission!

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Gaining trust and avoiding stress!

Velizar Angelov has already spent weeks with the four big cats in San Luis, Argentina. On a daily basis, he is feeding the tigers, providing fresh water, and working with them by positive reinforcement. This will ensure that all the animals feel safe in their transport crates and stay as calm as possible on the rescue day. Especially the female tiger, Mafalda, grew close to his heart and they share a very special bond already!

Tiger Sandro

Hoping for the best...

Dr Amir Khalil and our team of vets and wildlife experts have thoroughly observed the health status of all four tigers in the past weeks. Particularly, Sandro’s current condition is a bit concerning to us. One of his canine teeth is broken and he is unfortunately also suffering from sight loss. The oldest big cat of the four living in a train carriage in Argentina, is very likely also having some kidney problems and will definitely need special care and attention in the future. Luckily, our staff at LIONSROCK Big Cat Sanctuary is highly experienced and prepared to give Sandro and the other tigers from San Luis, the best care possible.

We will monitor the tigers closely every step of the way of this long journey and keep you informed!

Tiger Gustavo

We have names!

We asked you to vote for the names of the #TrainTigers on our instagram. A lot of people participated, and the results were tight. But we are happy that the tigers finally have names now to build an even stronger bond with them.

For weeks, our team on-site worked day and night, to make this rescue mission happen. They faced many obstacles, but never gave up. That's why we thought we’d give them the chance to decide on a tiger's name to honour and appreciate their hard work. Our crew on the ground chose to call the female tiger MAFALDA from now on! Well done, team! The names of the male tigers chosen are GUSTAVO, MESSI and SANDRO!

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Goosebumps alert! 

In our Instagram stories, we have asked you what you would like to see during this ongoing rescue mission in Argentina and lots of you requested to get a look at the big cats up close and to hear their impressive roars. Here you go...your wish is our command!

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A rollercoaster of emotions

When seeing the four tigers stuck in an old train carriage in Argentina live for the first time, FOUR PAWS Chief Development Officer, Luciana D’Abramo, experienced a rollercoaster of emotions. She was devastated by their tragic story but has high hopes for a bright future for these big cats and can’t wait to see them finally enjoy a species-appropriate life soon!

Train Tiger

Don't miss our daily LIVE updates of the rescue!

We want to make sure to take you along, while Dr Amir Khalil and his team on-site in Argentina are getting the four tigers ready to travel to South Africa. There are several logistical und bureaucratic hurdles the team is facing, but we are determined and give our best to bring these big cats to LIONSROCK Big Cat Sanctuary in the upcoming days. Head to our Instagram stories and be part of this exciting rescue mission! 

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GOOD NEWS: Our team is preparing for their rescue! 

To organise a mission between three continents is a challenging task itself and it took us weeks to figure out, how we could manage it all. The four tigers stuck in a carriage in the province of San Luis in Argentina, will very soon start their journey to a new life in South Africa. At our LIONSROCK Big Cat Sanctuary they will be able to roam and call a spacious enclosure their forever home. Our experienced staff will make sure to provide them with care tailored to the tiger's species specific and individual needs.  Please keep supporting us with your donation.

LIONSROCK Big Cat Sanctuary

A new home is waiting!

Locked up for 15 years: Little space to move, completely open to the elements including temperatures of over 40°C (104°F) in summer. The cages are built on a railroad car and the tigers are separated by a metal grating and wall. With a concrete floor, the entire area of the wagon is only 75m²!

Close to nature environment: Species-appropriate large enclosures, grass under their paws, suitable food and medical care as it is at our LIONSROCK Big Cat Sanctuary. This is what we want for the #TrainTigers!

February 2022
Meeting with Austrian Ambassador and local authorities of Argentina

Only together we can assure them a species-appropriate life!

For every rescue mission, it is crucial to work closely with the people within the country. Their help is vital for the success of a mission. Therefore, we were thrilled to have had the opportunity to meet local authorities as well as the Austrian Ambassador, Andreas Christian Melán, and First Secretary, Lisa Butzenlechner, yesterday in Buenos Aires.

We want to thank everyone in Argentina for their kind hospitality, constructive talks, and great cooperation!

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Meet Luciana D'Abramo, FOUR PAWS Chief Development Officer! 

Being Argentinian herself this rescue is close to her heart: “We are going to Argentina because as a global animal welfare organisation we feel it is our duty to regard the world as it is: connected. For this reason, we act locally where there is need. And we globally draw attention to the reasons why these actions matter.”

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Interview with mission leader Dr Amir Khalil!

We received many questions about the history of the four tigers living in an old train carriage in Argentina for the past 15 years. So, we sat down with our vet Dr Khalil to get the answers for you and explain how it all started, what is planned and how our plans look like.

Please keep supporting us and stay tuned for further updates in the upcoming days!

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Help us to rescue them

After 15 years of being stuck in an old train wagon, you can see a hopeless look in these tigers eyes.

Two became four. In the beginning, it was only two tigers, but five years later the tigers bred and two cubs were born, who are now 10 years old. This big cat family urgently needs to feel fresh grass under their paws and start a new life in species-appropriate conditions.

Please support us and make this rescue happen with your donation!

3.2.2022

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