There’s no doubt that Meme, a 25-year old Bengal tiger, is a favorite at the sanctuary. If her beauty and charm don’t win your heart, hearing her story surely will.
Just a short time ago, Meme was an indentured servant at a breeding farm right here in Minnesota. Her world consisted of a 10′ x 10′ dark and cold corn crib, with barely enough room to turn around. There was no grass to lie in, no room to run or walk, no insulation from the harsh winter cold.
She was fed primarily road kill, evident by the carcasses and bones that stood knee-high on the floor of her cage. For twenty years, her only purpose in life was to produce, for profit, litter after litter of cubs for the animal trade.
When Meme’s owner decided to get out of the business, he felt his only option may be to shoot his three tigers. This was to be Meme’s final reward for years of service to her owner.
Luckily, those words fell on the right ears. Our sanctuary was notified of the owner’s intentions and we were determined to rescue these tigers. Two were placed with a sanctuary in the south, but due to Meme’s age, no one felt she would survive the trip.
Therefore, Meme became TWS’s first and only tiger. Meme arrived with open wounds on her face and hips from rubbing herself raw against her small cage. The initial examination was not optimistic. She had severe arthritis and a bladder infection.
But with care from our veterinarian and staff, Meme now has a new lease on life. Life at the sanctuary must be heaven compared to her past. She has a heated den filled with straw for the cold Minnesota winters, a tiger perch complete with ramp and railings, a tire swing, tons of toys, fresh food every day and ample space to romp around.
In the summer of 2003, we achieved our goal of increasing the size of Meme’s habitat. Once released into her new space, Meme did the final inspection herself. A stretch up the new tree, which she annointed as her new scratching post; a roll in the freshly mowed grass; and a walk over the rocks – just because they were there!
Meme truly enjoys the winter. After the holidays, we picked up a truckload of donated Christmas trees. We gave Meme the largest of the lot, leaning it against one of her perches. She couldn’t wait to exit her lock out area to get at it. She jumped right in (or should we say, on it?), tearing at the branches and licking at the sap. She provided many humorous moments; especially, when she rolled over the tree and landed face first into the freshly fallen snow.
Meme continually amazes all of us at TWS. She has taught us that each day is special and that we should enjoy every moment. Meme has also taught us that to forgive is divine. We are very thankful that Meme has chosen to forgive mankind for her life of servitude. We can all learn a great deal from Meme.