Eagle Point, Ore., — This is a normal day for Robert Nagato-Needleman.
Like anyone who’s dedicated their life to being a veterinarian, Robert loves animals.
The only difference – the animals he cares for are a little wild.
Robert is the Director of Veterinary Services for the Oregon Tiger Sanctuary.
He not only helps find the animals they rescue, but makes sure they get acclimated and healthy once they arrive.
“This is Cooper and Darby, they’re about 15 or so months old now. We rescued them at about 9 months old. They were 100 pounds then.”
Cooper and Darby were rescued about 6 months ago.
Robert is now one of their caregivers, and their parent.
“Cubs that we rescue have been pulled from their mother usually way before they normally would be. So we sort of have to replace that mothering/fathering.”
The USDA reached out to the Eagle Point sanctuary hoping to find the cubs a new home.
“These two tigers really just needed a home where they could grow up and just be tigers.”
Now, they are best friends and live together as happy, healthy, growing cubs.
“Tigers love playing in the water. Those guys will play all day.”
The two boys are the newest of the non-profit’s 15 tigers.
All cared for by a small staff and a dedicated group of volunteers.
They pride themselves in letting the tigers, be tigers.
“Some places you’ll find people will handle tigers with leashes and go in with them. We’re really letting these two boys live their lives as tigers.”
That’s the main reason the sanctuary is closed to the public.
“The cats we rescued were either abused by people, or used for shows or zoos so they know people, but you never know what that relationship has been. And our job is to make them feel safe with us.”
Like 18-year-old Indi…
About 15 years ago, the ASPCA called the sanctuary from Florida.
Agents had found Indi, just a cub at the time, while at a drug bust.
She had been chained, beaten to the point of broken bones, malnourished, even declawed.
That’s all different now.
“She’s just much happier, her coat is healthier, her demeanor she’s just relaxed and happy.”
Relaxed, happy and grateful for a place she can call a safe home.
“We don’t breed, we don’t sell, they live out their lives here, no one is ever gonna leave here.”
If you want to help the sanctuary, visit this website: http://oregontigersanctuary.org/ways2help/ways2help.shtm
If you want to follow the animals, visit this website: https://www.facebook.com/Oregon-Tiger-Sanctuary-191442817544406/
The Oregon Tiger Sanctuary is founded and directed by Penny Torres Spinnler.
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