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Tiger Laziz will be spending his sixth rescueversary on the 25th of August lazing away in his enclosure in the tiger unit at LIONSROCK Big Cat Sanctuary in the Eastern Free State - a long way from where he was saved in the Gaza-strip in August 2016.
After six years at LIONSROCK, the shy tiger weighing 120 kilograms (about half the weight of a large motorcycle), is known for his calm demeanour. One can witness this calm spirit when he walks down the hill of his species-appropriate enclosure to greet LIONSROCK caretakers who has worked closely with him to form a bond of trust.
Life use to be everything but kind to the tiger whose name means
“the pleasant and sweet one”.
The Bengal tiger had to live alongside another tiger’s corpse, suffer years of conflict in a war zone as well as cold winters and negligence in a cage so small he could barely turn around.
For this tiger born in 2007, the arrival at LIONSROCK on the 25th of August 2016 was a true second chance as he came from what was known at the time as ‘’the worst zoo in the world’. This was how the Khan Younis Zoo was known at the time. The zoo garnered this reputation after it was partly destroyed by bombs during the conflict in 2014. Many animals died either directly from these attacks, or afterwards from starvation – which is sadly how Laziz’s partner passed away.
FOUR PAWS successfully negotiated with the owner to hand over any animals that were still alive and to close down the zoo. Even before their release, FOUR PAWS veterinarians visited the zoo to treat the ailing animals. Some of the animals were relocated to the New Hope Centre, a section of Al Ma’Wa Centre for Nature and Wildlife in Jordan. This Centre is co-funded by FOUR PAWS and the Princess Alia Foundation.
Laziz was the only big cat left in the zoo who survived the cruel husbandry conditions and started is journey to South Africa after a medical check-up.
On his release day at LIONSROCK, he was wide awake when the door of his crate was opened, and he soon enjoyed the freedom of his enclosure for the first time. He made a few turns around the enclosure and quickly used a tree as a scratching post before the excitement caught up with him and he settled under his shelter to sleep off his trip.
The trauma of being exposed to a warzone however left its mark on Laziz and the first Free State summer thunderstorm the tiger experienced in 2017 wiped out months of rehabilitation in one fell swoop. The management of LIONSROCK and the animal caretakers paid extra attention to Laziz who during thunderstorms took refuge in his indoor enclosure. He would even sometimes hide during the day. Trust had to be steadily rebuilt, with his animal caretakers taking exceptional care to put the tiger at ease after the traumatic ordeal.
In small baby steps he was acclimatised to a new daily routine until he felt safe again. Fast forward several months later, and tiger Laziz was finally able to cope with the rumbling thunderstorms that are so characteristic of the Free State landscape. His animal caretakers now unanimously agree that the tiger has successfully overcome his fear of thunderstorms.
On his sixth rescueversary Laziz, will perhaps take a gentle stroll to his favourite place in his enclosure, the poplar trees. He might also take to his usual routine of lying underneath the shaded platform next to his waterhole. He is often interested to see what his long-time neighbour, male tiger Caruso is doing and will also turn a curious glance towards where his other neighbours, tigers Zita, Rafik and Mirza, are making the most of the Eastern Free State sun.
Finally, at the age of 15, Laziz can live up to his name, the
pleasant and sweet one.