October 20, 2023
Caprichio Tiger. That name holds a lot of meaning for everyone who has met him. For the past seven years he has been the gatekeeper of the sanctuary, and was often the first tiger you encountered when you came out for a tour. But no matter how much he was loved, we also knew that he had many physical challenges that did not make life easy for him. With the help of a wonderful donor, we were able to purchase medication to help control his pain and did injections to help with arthritis in his joints. Sadly, this week we ran out of options to make him comfortable and had to make the difficult decision to let him go.
Caprichio became the face of Carolina Tiger Rescue upon his arrival from Colorado in 2016. Sadly, his history before coming to us left him with devastating damage to his rear legs due to metabolic bone disease. His large size made managing his issues even more challenging. But thankfully, Caprichio was a willing participant in his care. Hopefully all of you witnessed Caprichio and Maryssa Hill work together for his operant conditioning. Not only are we fortunate to have such an excellent trainer in Maryssa, but we had a tiger who was happy to participate.
Over the past seven years, Caprichio learned many behaviors including accepting intermuscular and subcutaneous injections, subcutaneous fluids, and tail sticks for volunteer blood draws. All of these behaviors allowed us to provide medical care without anesthesia and contributed to his longer than expected life at the Sanctuary. That being said, he did have his stubborn moments which our keepers can attest to. Sometimes coming up for meds just wasn’t in the books, and he made them work a little harder to provide care. But that’s just a tiger’s prerogative.
Caprichio’s importance goes beyond his value as a living creature. His life was a sad example of what happens when people put their own greed before the needs of a tiger cub. His suffering was a direct result of neglect and mistreatment. We are hopeful that with the passage of the Big Cat Public Safety Act, soon no other tiger will suffer this way again. The fight is not over, though. While the passage of the bill finally gives us the power to hold abusers responsible for their actions, it’s now time help U.S. Fish and Wildlife find those people who are breaking the law and find homes for those animals in need.
Caprichio’s impact on our sanctuary will be far reaching. Those who had the opportunity to spend time with him will remember a gregarious tiger who would spend summer days in his pool and rolling boomer balls around his enclosure. Those who cared for him will remember a cat that would happily participate in operant conditioning but may not come up for meds in the evening. Those who have heard his story will remember an animal that suffered because of humans that valued a dollar bill more than his well being until he was rescued and brought to Carolina Tiger.
Personally, I cannot express my gratitude enough for all of the hard work from our staff and volunteers. They never hesitated to do whatever was needed to care for Caprichio. There were so many long days of getting him under anesthesia to get his knees injected. There were endless hours of training to have him ready to participate willingly in his care. There are now so many broken hearts and tears to be shed in his memory. And still they fight. They show up the next day and get ready to work. I couldn’t ask for a more dedicated group of people. My thanks will never be enough.
I’m honored to be part of a group that works so hard to care for the animals. Thank you for being a part of that team. We are ready for the next cat that needs a home. We are willing to take on the challenges that come with those rescues. And we couldn’t do it without the support of our community.
With a heavy heart,
Kathryn Bertok, Assistant Director