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 shows skeletal problems and is on the small side for a tiger; these features are likely the result of malnutrition he suffered as a cub.  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 in 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 he shows structural problems, particularly in his 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 next to Yanaba Tiger. Emerson is very wary of large groups and becomes frightened and aggressive towards them, therefore he is off the tour route.

Roadside Zoos

Emerson was rescued along with three other tigers 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

About Carolina Tiger Rescue

Carolina Tiger Rescue is a 501(c)3 nonprofit wildlife sanctuary whose mission is saving and protecting wild cats in captivity and in the wild.

Carolina Tiger Rescue

1940 Hanks Chapel Rd. Pittsboro, NC 27312 (919) 542-4684 (919) 542-4454 info@carolinatigerrescue.org

Wildlife should be in the Wild



  • We believe the ideal home for wildlife is in the wild.
  • We believe it is critical to conserve their native habitats.
  • We believe wild animals should not be kept as pets.
  • We believe captive breeding should ONLY be done in accordance with Species Survival plans.
  • We believe all wild animals, both captive and in their native habitats, deserve to be treated with respect and not exploited for entertainment and commercial purposes.

Visit Carolina Tiger Rescue

Tiger at Carolina Tiger Rescue

Public Tours

Twilight Tours

Coming out for a tour is a great way to learn more about the animals that call Carolina Tiger Recue home. We offer many different types of tours.  Public tours are great for adults and families. Twilight tours are for adults only (18 years of age and older). Tiger Tales are a perfect option if you want to bring out really young children. Find the tour that is right for you and enjoy a walk through the sanctuary.

For all tours, tickets must be purchased in advance.

Have Fun Learning at Carolina Tiger Rescue

Field Trips

Field Trips

Virtual Field Trips link

Virtual Field Trips

Education is key to our mission.  We enjoy teaching "kids" of all ages!  Our field trips, both virtual and onsite, are ideal for groups of kids.  Our "Kid for a Day" Adult Camp provides a unique learning opportunity while allowing adults to channel their inner child.  While all of these opportunities are structured differently, in the end we want everyone to walk away knowing more about the animals we care for and what they can do to help protect them.

Bobcat at Carolina Tiger Rescue
Learn about
Caracal at Carolina Tiger Rescue
Learn about
Coatimundi at Carolina Tiger Rescue
Learn about
Cougar at Carolina Tiger Rescue
Learn about
Kinkajou at Carolina Tiger Rescue
Learn about
Lion at Carolina Tiger Rescue
Learn about
NGSD at Carolina Tiger Rescue
Learn about
Porcupine at Carolina Tiger Rescue
Learn about
Raccoon at Carolina Tiger Rescue
Learn about
Red Wolf at Carolina Tiger Rescue
Learn about
Red Wolves
Serval at Carolina Tiger Rescue
Learn about
Tiger at Carolina Tiger Rescue
Learn about
Keeper Stripes

Get involved at Carolina Tiger Rescue

Individual volunteering at Carolina Tiger Rescue

Individual Volunteering

Group volunteering at Carolina Tiger Rescue

Group Volunteering

There are so many ways to be a part of Carolina  Tiger Rescue.  Individual volunteers are able to help in many aspects of our work, including animal care, tour guides, construction, and gift shop assistance.  Work groups come from community groups, colleges, work places, and more!  It’s a great way to spend a day and it helps care for the cats.