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Guest Column: Don't Bring Tigers to West Malibu

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Posted: Wednesday, September 18, 2013 1:45 pm

Dear Malibu community of neighbors, 

My staff and I have been rescuing big cats since 1972. We have learned a great deal, and I’d like to share this with you. 

We filmed big cats from 1976-1981. During that time, eight of us, including myself and my daughter, were injured by our tiger and lion actors. These were senseless accidents that should never have happened. All required hospitalization, and our first assistant director was almost killed. 

We learned the hard way that we must respect the natural instincts of exotic animals and that they are not pets or actors! 

I commend you for having the intelligence to put up a fight to stop the five tigers from moving into your community. This is a life and death issue. My executive board and I stand behind you on every issue dealing with these big cats. They are apex predators, top of the food chain, one of four of the most dangerous animals in the world. 

When I founded the 501(c)(3) The Roar Foundation in 1983, the movie set became a sanctuary, “The Shambala Preserve.” Since then, only one person has been hurt, an employee who failed to follow a primary rule: never turn your back on a big cat. In a split second, the tiger jumped the worker and got him by the neck. He survived. Since that day, no one is allowed to be in a compound with the big cats at Shambala. We have a lock out system, a hands off policy. The only exception is when veterinary care is needed. 

I understand the property owners are claiming their tigers are “tame.” That is a falsehood. There’s no such thing as a tame lion or tiger. Their instinctual dictates can never be removed. Their job in the wild is to take out any being who is old, sick or lame. The animal becomes their meal. These instincts will target the human species. 

For example, an entertainer in Las Vegas had a stroke while performing with his tiger. When the tiger realized the performer was in distress, he didn’t hesitate. The tiger jumped the entertainer, grabbed him by his neck and dragged him off the stage. He whipped him around like a rag doll, horrifying the audience. This tiger had been bred at their compound, fed with a baby bottle, swam in their pool, and was a “perfect actor.” The entertainer and his life partner will never be the same. 

This is one of many documented cases. I have a four-inch binder filled with documented big cat attacks and escapes. Editorial space limits citing more examples. 

During the past 41 years, we have rescued more than 230 big cats, all born in captivity to be sold as pets, to be in shows, or used for financial gain. All have tragic background stories. 

They all are either living or have lived out their lives in peace at the Shambala Preserve. Since I founded The Roar Foundation, we’ve been educating adults and children about the dangers of owning wild animals. 

In regards to having tigers in a backyard in Malibu: 

Children are not safe. Big cats have a very disturbingly intense interest in children and will single them out in a crowd. If those tigers are on the beach where your children are playing, being on a chain is not going to stop that tiger! I’ve seen 5 experienced big cat handlers try to restrain a tiger with a chain being effortlessly dragged. 

Children are curious and their little arms can fit through chain link fences. A boy named Chayton had his arm ripped off by his uncle’s pet tiger through “secure” fencing. 

Being in close proximity to horses and other livestock will cause extreme distress for the animals, as well as pose a constant source of agitation for the tigers who can sense the presence of possible prey. This includes cats and dogs. 

Due to the advancement and current state of computer imagery, the use of exotic animals in film production is outdated and unnecessary, perfectly illustrated in “Life of Pi.” Using live exotics in film is stressful for the animals, and dangerous for the crew and talent. Personal experience has taught me that this is a fact. 

There is no cause to allow this ridiculous situation to occur in anyone’s neighborhood. You are inviting disaster. These accidents should never be allowed to happen. I do not want to have to be proven right. The answer is simple: Do not allow granting of the permit. Period. 

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  • Lisa Vernon posted at 12:53 pm on Fri, Feb 14, 2014.

    Lisa Vernon Posts: 1

    Thank you, Tippi for writing that intelligent editorial.

  • betouliere posted at 12:34 pm on Sun, Sep 22, 2013.

    betouliere Posts: 4

    One last thought ... mountain lions can jump 20 feet vertically and 40 feet horizontally.

    So much for the applicants proposed 8 foot high chain link fences or even 16 foot high interior chain link fences.

    If this goes through I hope the mountain lions jump over the fence and eat the tasty tigers.

  • Melissa Caskey posted at 6:43 pm on Sat, Sep 21, 2013.

    Melissa Posts: 26 Staff

    @sunshine59: No, the tigers are not in Malibu. The landowner doesn't have a permit to house them in Malibu (which is what is being applied for). The tigers are at a licensed animal facility, according to the LA Times, "somewhere in Southern California." You can read their full story here:,0,3355990.story

  • Hans Laetz posted at 1:00 pm on Sat, Sep 21, 2013.

    hanslaetz Posts: 475

    The proposed tiger cages do not include any sanitation or drainage system other than "solid waste will be scooped up and hauled off by the garbage company." Liquid waste and washwater will be discharged onto the rocky soil on the property, to eventually spill into a nearby arroyo (that feeds the ASBS in the coean). The tigers will not only scare off native mountain lions and bobcats, but also, the deer that the local big cats need to eat. The Ventura County CEQA study failed to consider that. I hope the bureaucrats in Ventura consider their mistake and reverse course. As Ms. Hendren points out, the proposed tiger cages are wrong for many reasons, but the impact of exotic species on native animals alone make this proposal a big fat mistake.

  • sunshine59 posted at 8:47 am on Sat, Sep 21, 2013.

    sunshine59 Posts: 7

    if someone would answer my question it sure would be appreciated

  • macaroons posted at 7:58 am on Sat, Sep 21, 2013.

    macaroons Posts: 1

    well stated Tipi, and Thank you for your Intelligent, Factual information.

  • betouliere posted at 8:33 pm on Fri, Sep 20, 2013.

    betouliere Posts: 4


    I have been thinking about this thought for the last several weeks now and am finally posting it today.

    I have spent my whole life living in the Santa Monica Mountains and so far have only seen one mountain lion. The encounter was thrilling and frightening at the same moment. Fortunately he walked away, turned, sat and watched me as I carefully walked backwards to safety watching him watch me all the while.

    Each mountain lion needs a 10 square miles to have a healthy feeding area.

    Now if I was a mountain lion and five tigers moved into my neighborhood I would be pissed. I could smell them from miles away and I would do everything I could do to meet, confront and eliminate these un-welcomed intruders. I would be uncontrollably drawn to this very Pacific View neighborhood and I would be on the prowl. I would put caution aside and would be drawn closer to humans and their pets for my next dinner.

    Wake up neighbors and the County of Ventura because this is a very bad idea.

  • sunshine59 posted at 9:10 am on Fri, Sep 20, 2013.

    sunshine59 Posts: 7

    where are the tigers now? are they already in Malibu somewhere?

  • DP310 posted at 8:33 am on Fri, Sep 20, 2013.

    DP310 Posts: 11

    Thank you Tippi for taking the time to share your knowledge and experience. Now if we can only get those who decides these things to listen.

  • Tom Bates posted at 8:20 am on Fri, Sep 20, 2013.

    Tom Bates Posts: 133

    Twetty" would say " I thought I saw a Puddy Cat".

  • MMA posted at 8:15 am on Thu, Sep 19, 2013.

    MMA Posts: 283

    Don't we have enough wild animals wandering around Malibu already? Many of them on motorcycles.