Just before Valentine’s Day, a tiger was found in an abandoned Houston home by a person who went into the house to use drugs.
Now the tiger has a new name and home at the Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch in Murchison. He’s gone from a cage where he could barely move around into an enclosure with room to run, play and live his best life.
The sanctuary is nestled away in the country off of U.S. Highway 31 between Tyler and Athens. It covers 1,400 acres, where care is given to more than 800 animals from 40 different species, most from abused or neglected backgrounds.
Director Noelle Almrud said species include everything from horses, donkeys and sheep to an Asian water bison, tigers and chimpanzees.
“They’ve been discarded or were no longer wanted and we provide stable homes for them for the rest of their lives,” Almrud said. “Our goal is to provide them the best quality of life for as long as they have.”
After taking permanent possession of the tiger, the sanctuary held a naming contest that drew almost 1,500 votes. He is now known as Loki.
“He’s very curious, but very timid,” Almrud said. “He is checking out his new environment, getting comfortable with his digs, and we’re happy to have him here.”
The sanctuary also recently took possession of an 18-year-old neglected camel named Bubba. Bubba had been so severely malnourished that his body had metabolized the fat stored in both of his humps.
The sanctuary is not set up like a traditional zoo, but it does offer private guided educational bus tours a few times each month.
The nonprofit, which is operated by the Fund for Animals and partnered with the Humane Society of the United States, also has volunteer opportunities available.
“We are always looking for volunteers to help support the work we do,” Almrud said. “We are currently in an expansion phase to build new habitats for bears and tigers, like Loki.”
Almrud said the staff strives to create authentic and enriching environments. Whether it is the large, wooded enclosure for the tigers and bears or the primate habitats incorporating climbing and play areas for the animals.
Almrud said the total cost of caring for a single tiger runs about $25,000 per year, which includes vet care, trained staff and food.
The sanctuary is completely donor-driven. Volunteers can donate time, money or enrichment items for the animals.
It was founded in 1979 by Cleveland Amory, a renowned author and animal activist.
For more information, visit fundforanimals.org/blackbeauty/.