Bramwell - Nothing Attracts Pittsboro Residents like Tigers: Carolina Tiger Rescue
From the escape of a COVID positive Tiger at the Bronx Zoo early in the year to the release of the popular Netflix documentary, Tiger King, 2020 seems to have a bit of a Tiger theme.
Pittsboro, NC is located in Chatham County and sits at the intersection of Highway 64 and Highway 15-501. One of the most interesting attractions in the area is the Carolina Tiger Rescue, a wildlife rescue service. The organization has been a part of Pittsboro for over 45 years. Last year alone, 15,000 visitors passed through the sanctuary.
News of the Tiger escape in New York prompted a fundamental change of how the organization operates, including required mask wearing by everyone at all times, and even special masks for those who come in contact with the animals or their food to limit the likelihood of passing on the virus. Even with those precautions, in March, the organization decided to close to the public for the safety of the staff and the animals.
“We knew that if COVID was to impact us as a staff, it would possibly limit our ability to adequately care for the animals at the rescue. Sick animal care staff would make things even more difficult. To limit possible exposure, we kept those on-site to a skeleton crew of about 9 essential personnel, all of whom worked tirelessly for three months to keep the animals healthy and cared for,” said Louise Orr, the Communications Director for Carolina Tiger Rescue.
The organization’s mission is protecting and saving wild cats in captivity and the wild and this year proved that they are committed to that mission. Tours were able to resume in June with extra safety precautions in place.
“We consider ourselves lucky that we are a facility that operates outside, as it's a great way for people to leave their homes safely and engage in an activity that they can feel comfortable doing,” says Louise.
The organization rescues animals from private individuals who have realized that wild animals don’t make good pets, animals that come from facilities that have closed, and animals that have been confiscated by law enforcement. Originally named the Carnivore Preservation Trust, the organization acted as a breeding facility for small wild cats such as servals and caracals.
“It's amazing to see the path that the organization has taken throughout the decades - we recognized that breeding was no longer necessary for us and refocused our mission on the rescue of wild cats and other animals in need. We have continually looked at our values and our ethics and adjusted those to become an ethical, accredited organization that truly puts the needs of the animals we rescue first, no matter how difficult!” said Louise Orr, the organization’s communications director.
Carolina Tiger Rescue focuses on educating the public through tours, presentations, and exhibits. They also educate groups and businesses on how their activities impact wild animals. They occasionally assist legislators and other policy-makers as they pursue legislation and ordinances that ensure public safety and animal welfare. Their overall goal is to have everyone who interacts with the organization to know what they can do to protect wild cats.
I asked Louise about the best part of her job.
“Being able to form a bond and relationship with a 300-400 pound tiger is an incredible feeling,” she says.
A unique bond created by an organization that is a jewel of Pittsboro, NC.