Bela and Sharuk's journey to a joyful life

Tigress Bela and tiger Sharuk were born on 8th of May 2014 in private captivity in Mittelbuch, Germany. 


Legislation in Germany regarding the keeping of dangerous exotic animals varies between federal states and in this case, the owner was forced by the local veterinary authorities to give up on the cubs to adhere to the German husbandry regulations that were implemented in May 2014. 

The owner was allowed to keep the parents of Bela and Sharuk, but he could no longer breed with them, which he used to do regularly. Besides that, he was given six months to find a new owner/home for Bela and Sharuk. Being predators, he was unable to find a proper home for them, as this is usually the case when these types of animals are privately kept. 

When he failed, FOUR PAWS was asked to take over the two young tigers and on 31 July 2015, when Bela and Sharuk were finally transported to TIERART and would start the first phase of their new stress-free and happy life. The sad part of their story, apart from living in inappropriate conditions, is that they lost their sister, Imara, in March 2015.

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A year ago (in 2019) tiger siblings Bela and Sharuk arrived safely at our LIONSROCK Big Cat Sanctuary after being transferred from Germany. All animals are different in adapting to new environments; it was noticed from the time of their arrival that especially Bela was insecure and nervous. 

After their release at LIONSROCK, it became clear that both had problems to adapt in their new environment and in building trust with their new caretakers – which made them take much longer to settle in than we initially thought.

To ensure they were absolutely comfortable in their new environment, and to have a better chance to manage and build a relationship with them, the on-site team decided to leave them in their feeding enclosure for as long as necessary.

Sharuk, who was more confident from the beginning, was the first one to come out of his shell, but it wouldn’t have been viable to separate him from his sister. Both are still living in their smaller enclosure with free access to a house, where both find shelter and feel secure.

The team of caretakers are continuously providing them with enrichment, and they have everything they need for their wellbeing. They have a nice pool to freshen up and cool down in, and higher platforms to rest, climb or play on.

Their caretakers started trust-building training some months ago and are happy to share that eventually, both tigers have gained more confidence and are becoming more and more trustful. 

Sometimes it is a long road for our animals, and having a big enclosure is not the most critical part of their new-found life. The fact that they have to live in human care means it is most important that they feel at ease when their caretakers approach them in order for us to do daily husbandry and take care of their medical needs – ultimately giving them a stress-free and happy life which we commit to for each and every animal in our care.

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