ROCKWELL, NC (WBTV) - "Three of every four animals living here is rescued. Some of them from very bad conditions," Katy Rich tells WBTV.
She's the Operations Manager of Tiger World. This exotic animal rescue and park in Rockwell, NC is home to tigers, lions, kangaroos, cougars, panthers, monkeys, birds and all types of animals.
Their newest resident is Michael. He is a 3 year old white lion who came to Rowan County from South Africa. His exhibit, the newly created Timbavati Falls, is the centerpiece now for visitors to Tiger World.
"When you walk all the way up you get a 180 degree view almost like you're in the exhibit with Michael. We want to create the best most natural environments we can for them," facility manager Nick Rich explained.
Tiger World today is nothing like it used to be. In 2008 the owner of what was then called Metrolina Wildlife Park was fined by the USDA, shut down and forbidden to open another animal park for 8 years. Authorities said he was not taking care of the animals properly. Shortly after that it came under new ownership. While there have been small bumps along the way the staff says they are so proud of this place today.
"We've worked really hard and it makes us teary-eyed to think how far it has come," Katy Rich said.
The new Timbavati Falls exhibit was made possible by donations. There is a plan to put a donated Land Rover half-in and half-outside of Michael's new enclosure so visitors can climb inside the vehicle and, safely behind special bulletproof glass, get even closer to the lion.
Management at Tiger World say they hope the park will have it's accreditation from the Zoological Association of America soon.