Lilly was born around 1996 at a pseudo sanctuary in southern Minnesota. The facility closed down after a white tiger bit a young girl and owners were prosecuted for selling tigers – dead and alive.
When Lilly was young, she was leased out for exhibits and ‘pay to play’ opportunities. The public was allowed to have photos taken with her for a small fee. Later, she was sold to a private collector in northern Minnesota where she endured malnutrition and neglect. She was the lone survivor after several other animals died of starvation. Shockingly, Lilly survived by consuming her cage-mate who had passed away.
Lilly’s hard journey continued as she was moved to another facility. Sadly, in April of 2006, a woman was killed by another tiger there. The Wildcat Sanctuary was called to help. That was the first day of Lilly’s new life when she arrived at The Wildcat Sanctuary. She had finally made it to a true sanctuary, against the odds.
With your help, we can create more happy endings for cats like Lilly. And your gift will be doubled through April 30 by generous donors!
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Your support saved Lilly! And it did the same for so many animals that now call TWS home. It has also changed the lives and mindset of so many people, too! Our work has helped educate and inspire people to keep the wild in their heart, not their home.
Recently, I received the most touching email from a young woman who knew Lilly as a cub. And because YOU helped rescue Lilly, I thought it was only fitting to share this message with all of you.
“Please say ‘Hi’ to Lilly for me. As much anger as bringing up Bear Cat Hollow fuels in me, it’s wonderful to know that at least one of my old friends survived the aftermath of that accursed place.
I was 10 years old when I first started frequenting the Hollow. I’d go almost every weekend to the point where they didn’t charge me if I helped out with the animals. It started out just cleaning, restocking the food, tending to the more domestic animals like the deer and the goats. Then I got to be in the pens, with a ‘trainer’ supervising me. Yes, these ‘experts’ allowed a pre-teen in the cages of a Liger (Sampson, the overgrown softie) and multiple full grown tigers at a time.
They kept all the cubs, lion and tiger, in a cage together, isolated from the adults (I hope to god that it was after they stopped nursing). Lilly was the only tiger cub in the one I was assigned to. The lions were more interested in playing with each other, but Lilly took more of a side to me for some reason…
Sadly, the last time I saw Lilly, she was about the size of a large dog, still very young. It was right after the Como the white tiger incident had happened, and they pretty much barred even the general public from getting anywhere near the cages. Then, before I knew it, the place had been shut down and I had hoped that all of those I cared about were now in good hands. After reading Lilly’s story, it’s heartbreaking to know I had hoped in vain for her fellows, but I’m glad at least one made it. I have yet to find out which cats she was relocated with so I can properly pay my respects, as well as the other members of the Hollow that were just shipped away as soon as the doors were closed.
She may not remember me at all after all this time, as I am now 21 with an entry level corporate job, send her my love regardless. Maybe in some way she can understand that I am proud of her for making it against the odds.