Two zoos in Poland are fighting to rehabilitate nine tigers who were left starving and covered in their own excrement after being shipped across Europe in horrific conditions.
Ten tigers boarded the horrendous journey last month, but one animal died in captivity on the trip which was supposed to end at a circus in Russia.
The trip was cut short after animal welfare organisations intervened, and now the starving tigers are battling for their lives.
A breeding facility in Rome sent the animals to Dagestan zoo as a gift, but the Poznan zoo said the tigers will not be sent to either.
On arrival to the zoos the tigers were ’emaciated, dehydrated, with sunken eyes, excrement stuck to their fur, urine burns, in a total state of stress, without the will or desire to live’, workers reported.
Zoos have managed to feed seven of the animals and give them vital vitamins and mineral salts after being left malnourished by the journey.
Two Italian truck drivers have been charged by authorities in Poland, and a Russian man has also been charged with animal abuse.
Animal welfare organisations are now attempting to raise money to care for animals in distress, including the tigers, and have already raised around £300,000.
The truck took off from Italy on October 22, but was stuck on the border with Belarus for days, leading to the tigers’ rapidly deteriorating health.
There are only around 3,000 tigers left in the wild, and 7,000 are held in captivity, mostly in Asia.
In September, 86 tigers who were supposedly rescued from an infamous tourist hotspot in Thailand died in Government custody.
Authorities announced that only 61 of 147 tigers taken from the Buddhist Tiger Temple survived.
The tigers were removed from the Wat Pha Luang Ta Bua temple three years ago following pressure from animal rights groups.
But their fate did not improve. Officials said the animals were weakened by relocation and had genetic problems from inbreeding.
Many tigers suffered laryngeal paralysis, which prevents them from breathing, while others fell ill with canine distemper, a virus which damages respiratory, gastrointestinal and nervous systems.
Tigers are often exploited in the animal tourism industry. Earlier this year a shocking video displayed a visibly stressed tiger chained to the ground ready for tourists to take selfies.
The video, which was posted on National Geographic’s Instagram page, was reportedly filmed at Thailand’s Phuket Zoo.
It shows a tiger pacing in tiny circles around a small platform, with a short chain keeping the animal restricted to a small spot.
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Video and Photos by Kirsten Luce @kirstenluce | A tiger paces in circles, chained to a platform in a photo studio at the Phuket Zoo in Thailand. Tigers are often declawed and/or drugged to make them safer for interacting with tourists. Photos here are 300 Baht (or about $9). For the June 2019 issue of National Geographic, writer @natashaldaly and I traveled the world to learn about wildlife tourism and the suffering that goes on behind the scenes. Our intention is not to shame tourists who have had these encounters but to arm our readers with information that will help them identify potentially abusive situations for animals. To learn more, read the story at natgeo.com/wildlifetourism and follow @wildlife_friends_foundation, a non-profit which works on the ground to help animals in the tourism industry in Thailand.
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