February 17, 2021
It is with the heaviest of hearts that I come to you today. For the past few weeks, we have been monitoring Rajah Tiger. He became lethargic and had GI issues that we treated with medications. Last week we performed a physical on him and ran bloodwork and took X-rays. We made changes to his medications, but he did not improve. We decided to get him down again to do more supportive care and to perform an ultrasound. The ultrasound showed tumors on his spleen. Unfortunately, given the diagnosis of a hemangiosarcoma, we made the decision to let him go.
Rajah is probably one of the most well-known tigers at Carolina Tiger Rescue. He was likely one of the first tigers you ever met. He was front and center, ready and waiting for the next tour guest, volunteer, adoptive parent, or staff member to come by for a visit. He likely followed you along the fence line as you made your way around Oak Hill. He may have plopped on his side and rolled onto his back, watching you with relaxed contentment. If you have enjoyed an enrichment tour or camp, you almost certainly saw him playing with enrichment or painting a Pawcasso; painting Pawcassos was probably his most favorite thing to do in the world!
Rajah’s rescue story will forever live on as a part of Carolina Tiger Rescue’s legacy. Found on the side of the road outside of Charlotte, NC, he was fortunate to find his way here. He lived a life where he was loved and cared for by a wonderful group of people. He will live on as an example of why we believe tigers should not live as pets. He will remain an illustration of why North Carolina should have laws in place to protect both our residents and exotic animals.
For me, Rajah has an even more poignant side of his story. I have been fortunate enough to be a part of Carolina Tiger Rescue for over twenty years. During those twenty years, I have watched Carolina Tiger change and grow and become a place that I am proud to call home. For many years we had closed our doors to accepting new animals. We were working through the loss of our founder and trying to find our way. We struggled and fought to find our new mission and to become financially stable. When we got the call that there were two tiger cubs in need of rescue, we were ready to open our doors and accept Rajah and Kaela (his enclosure mate who passed a few years ago) into the fold. They were the first tangible step towards who we are today. For me, they will live on as a symbol of how far we have come and the work we still have left to do. I will forever cherish my memories of them.
I know that I will not be alone in my grief. I know that this year in particular has not been easy on anyone. We have suffered losses and missed celebrations. Though we will not be able to grieve together, know that you are not alone. It’s times like these that I truly appreciate my Carolina Tiger Rescue family.
With much love and appreciation,
Kathryn Bertok, Assistant Director