After a nearly 11-year-long journey, two rescued tigers, saved from a roadside zoo in Mississippi, finally settle into their newly built habitat at the Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch. The two tigers, sisters Anastasia and Natalia, were among a group of animals that were freed from life in a decrepit zoo thanks to a month-long investigation by the Humane Society of the United States. The pair have lived on Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch for nearly two-years and recently became the first tigers moved to the ranch’s brand new 5-acre tiger habitat. This is the first time they will live in a space where they can see the sky uninterrupted by metal wires.
“Their minds were completely blown,” says Katherine Birk, lead wildlife caregiver at the Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch. “They had never had a moment where they didn’t have a cage over their head.”
When the transfer gates slid open, welcoming the Anastasia and Natalia to their new home, the two tigers walked out into a covered walkway. Waiting on the other side was the largest expanse of land they’d ever set paw into: 12,000 square feet. The sisters sniffed at the trees, at the stumps, at the plants. They found a lush patch of grass and rolled on their backs. They crawled up onto the elevated wooden platforms.
This is a momentous occasion for Anastasia and Natalia considering the conditions they lived in before coming to the ranch, it was a moment five years in the making.