We all know COVID-19 has had an enormous impact on the world. The impact was especially poignant for many wild animals including 6 tigers on the island of Guam. The tigers were part of a Las Vegas style tourist attraction that ould no longer afford them,
The story is featured in the Fall 2022 The Wild Animal Sanctuary (TWAS) newsletter. This account is based on that newsletter.
According to TWAS he tigers were facing a very questionable future when the sanctuary stepped forward to rescue them – a process that took many months and the concerted efforts of TWAS the United States and many concerned individuals to accomplish.
Guam is a territory of the United States in the Micronesia region of the Pacific Ocean. It is about 200 square miles in size and has a population of about 160,000. It was the scene of heavy fighting in World War Two.
More recently, it has become a tourist attraction, primarily for Asian tourists, and that is where the tigers come in. A large corporate entity, the Baldyga Group operated the Sand Castle Dinner Theater which featured a Siegfried and Roy style tiger show, according to the newsletter. Baldyga’s website says they have been the leading entertainment provider on Guam for almost 30 years. Siegfried and Roy were Las Vegas entertainers with a tiger act. A near-fatal tiger attack ended the show.
When Covid hit, the tourists stopped coming. Unlike other venues, the owners tried to wait out the pandemic. Baldyga Group had deep pockets and owned many venues including bars and restaurants and other tourist sites. The corporation cared for the animals and waited. Sometime in 2021 the sanctuary was contacted to rescue the tigers.
That was the beginning of a series of problems that didn’t end until July, 2022. TWAS said Guam prohibited human travel longer than other countries. Once the travel embargo ended all suitable travel to Guam was taken up by necessities and other shipping backlogs. Late in July, TWAS arranged for the cats to be shipped from Guam to Hawaii and then from Hawaii to Denver, Colorado.
But the airlines involved changed their plans and the tigers wound up in Seattle instead of Denver, which meant a 1,300 mile road trip to Colorado. Clearances with federal agencies were also involved.
TWAS transports large animals frequently and has the correct carriers to do so. But the temperatures were climbing from the 80’s into the 100’s and TWAS will not transport animals if the temperature is too high, the article said.
The solution? Thousands of pounds of ice. The containers are aluminum and ice on the top chilled the carriers to the point that the cats could sleep like cubs during the long trip.
One of the caretakers who had cared for the animals for most of their lives has joined them at TWAS. At the time of printing the tigers – Takara, Caesar. Napal, Shanti, Alita and Xena – were all acclimating at the Keenesburg facility. It was undecided exactly where they wound remain. TWAS owns about 10,000 acres in three states.