Saying Goodbye to Riley

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

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.

Animals are in many ways like working with children. Some are easier than others and they never fail to keep you on your toes. We have sadly had to say goodbye to one of tigers that certainly kept us on our toes. Riley Tiger became ill and there was a concern that we may be dealing with a pyometra (infected uterus) which requires emergency surgery. We had a concern about getting her under anesthesia because the two girls she came with both had poor reactions to anesthesia during their quarantine physicals. Knowing that, we made plans for additional staffing and had some additional medication on board. The procedure went incredibly well. Riley’s EKG and other vitals remained stable throughout the procedure. Sadly, as we were reversing her, her heart stopped. The staff began life saving measures including administering emergency medications and CPR. Sadly, our efforts were in vain and her heart never recovered. 

Due to the history of the other two and the sudden cardiac arrest, we did have a full necropsy performed. While we haven’t received all of the test results yet, the primary cause of death does appear to be an issue concerning her heart. In addition to the heart, there was also a tumor found in her uterus that was starting to erode the uterine wall and was beginning to cause septic peritonitis. 

Some of you may never have met Riley. Riley and Mila came to us from the Colorado rescue in 2016. They made quite the impact on the sanctuary with their shenanigans. Many modifications were made to the enclosure to keep everyone safe and happy. Because of this, they have never been on tour though I’m pretty sure they would be the star of the show. 

Riley had quite the personality. She was a bit more dominant than her sister, often shoving her out of the way for extra attention. Her love of enrichment knew no bounds. Give her some extracts and a cardboard box and watch out! You also needed to be aware when she got a fresh pool. Within moments she would be soaking in the pool and then get the zoomies and spray anyone nearby with pool water. While she didn’t get along as well with her sister for the past few years, I have many fond memories of the two of them racing around and tackling snowmen during the winter. 

The night we lost Riley was an incredibly difficult night for everyone. We were concerned going into the procedure, lulled into a false sense of security with a very stable procedure, and crushed by her death. The struggle of having to stop CPR is heartbreaking, and yet I am incredibly proud of our team. The team came together quickly and knew what needed to be done. Within moments, medications were drawn and a rotation of people doing CPR was started. Everyone knew what needed to be done and kept their composure. I honestly couldn’t have asked any more from our team. I’m heartbroken that we have suffered this loss. My only comfort is knowing that Riley was a happy tiger and was loved deeply by those who knew her.  

With a heavy heart,

Kathryn Bertok, Assistant Director