Emerson can be very distrustful of new people but he enjoys attention from the keepers, staff, and volunteers that he knows. His lack of trust inspires staff and volunteers to take extra steps to make him feel comfortable and safe. Emerson and his enclosure mate, Fenimore, show skeletal problems and are on the small side for tigers; these features are likely the result of malnutrition they suffered as cubs. Emerson is easily recognized by his pronounced snaggletooth. 

Born July 1, 2003
Rescued September 8, 2008

How Emerson Came to the Sanctuary

Emerson Tiger was rescued along with three other tigers (Fenimore, Mona, and Moki) from the Wesa-a-Geh-Ya facility in Warrenton, Missouri, in September, 2008. Wesa-a-Geh-Ya closed following an attack on a volunteer by a tiger named Hercules. Hercules was shot and killed by his owner to stop the attack, and his body was initially hidden from local authorities. The law enforcement officer that responded to the scene was told that the volunteer was injured by a pit bull, but the owner of Wesa later corrected this statement. Wesa-a-Geh-Ya had surrendered its USDA license in 2003 (a USDA license allows a facility to exhibit animals to the public), and had been under pressure from PETA. At the time Wesa announced its plans to close, there were approximately 22 tigers, 8 lions, a cougar, and several other exotic animals on a small portion of the 17-acre property. The other animals were placed at different sanctuaries and animal parks in Oklahoma and Colorado. Even after its closure, Wesa-a-Geh-Ya continued to be investigated by the Warrenton sheriff’s department and the USDA, based on accusations that they bred and sold exotic animals and pelts for profit. Warren County did eventually establish an ordinance banning the ownership of exotic animals.


Emerson was distrustful of people when he arrived at Carolina Tiger Rescue, although he quickly adjusted to friendly faces. He is not large for a tiger, and both he and his enclosure mate, Fenimore, show structural problems, particularly in their front shoulders, that are most likely the result of inbreeding. His lack of trust inspires staff and volunteers to take extra steps to make him feel comfortable and safe.


Emerson is known for his snaggletooth that sticks out on the left side of his mouth. It is very pronounced but does not cause him any discomfort or affect his quality of life. Emerson’s fur is a light orange and he has a very round, very lovable face! Emerson has especially rounded shoulders that do not sit directly under him as they should, likely a problem that resulted from poor nutrition at an early age.

Where in Sanctuary

Emerson is located in Pine Forest. He lives with Fenimore Tiger and their enclosure is sandwiched between Madonna’s and Roscoe and Camilla’s enclosures. Emerson is still very wary of large groups and becomes frightened and aggressive towards them, therefore he and Fenimore are off the tour route.

Roadside Zoos

Emerson was rescued along with three other tigers including his enclosure mate, Fenimore, from a roadside zoo in Missouri. Roadside zoos are "zoos" that pop up on the side of the road to catch tourist traffic. Many roadside zoos are not accredited facilities and are only open to make money. Many of these places lack the large enclosures that animals such as tigers need. They also do a lot of breeding so that they always have animals on hand. The roadside zoo that Emerson came from was shut down after a volunteer was hurt by another tiger. It is always important to research a facility before you visit it. Ask questions and find out why they exist and what their goal is.  

Panthera tigris