OAKLAND, California (KFOR/Storyful) – A tiger that was rescued from a defunct roadside zoo in Adair, Oklahoma, is seen on video enjoying playing with a ball for the first time at her new home in California.
“We think it’s safe to say she likes it!” The Oakland Zoo in California tweeted. “After years of being deprived of enrichment at the roadside zoo she was rescued from, Mia’s first interaction with a ball at our Vet Hospital is caught on camera thanks to Keeper Nikki.”
The Oakland Zoo renamed the tiger “Mia,” after rescuing her and three other large cats from the now abandoned Safari Joe’s Animal Park in Adair, which was cited and closed down by the USDA in 2008 for multiple animal safety violations.
Officials say Safari Joe’s offered cub petting and tiger photo opportunities, and that it’s owner was “reported to have ties to ‘Joe Exotic,’ also known in the well-known Netflix series as ‘Tiger King.‘”
The June 13th rescue came after a concerned Oklahoma resident called the Zoo in California, stating the four large cats were in poor condition, left alone, and inconsistently fed. Officials traveled to Oklahoma to medically examine the animals.
“No animals should suffer or live in the deplorable conditions these animals had to endure. The lioness was subjected to solitude 24/7 for seven years that we know of. It was simply inhumane,” said Emily McCormack, Animal Curator at Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge
Their rescue was a three-part effort by Oakland Zoo, and globally-accredited big cat sanctuaries Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge in Eureka Springs, Arkansas and Lions, Tigers, & Bears in Alpine, California.
In all, four female large cats were rescued – some were declawed. An elderly, arthritic lion was taken to Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge. A tiger hybrid with bowed legs and an extreme tooth infection that caused the side of her head to protrude was taken to the Oakland Zoo. Mia, the tiger seen in the video above, was taken to Oakland Zoo, while another tiger was taken to Lions, Tigers, & Bears. All animals received immediate veterinary services.
After living in cages their whole lives, the female big cats will now enjoy proper shelter, food, medical care, pools for swimming, platforms to climb, and grass-covered areas in their new permanent habitats.