Spokane zoo opens doors to 4 tigers from Napavine

SPOKANE – Four rare Siberian tigers being evicted from their Lewis County home have been offered new digs at a Spokane-area exotic animal attraction.

Samson and Delilah and their offspring, Romeo and Juliet, were being moved Thursday to Cat Tales Zoological Park, a sanctuary that already houses 43 other big cats, as well as assorted bears, parrots and iguanas.

The cats belong to Paul Mason, who lost his home in rural Napavine to foreclosure and was being evicted with his family Thursday, according to Lewis County sheriff’s chief deputy Gene Seiber, who helped find the cats a home.

“This whole issue wasn’t the fact he had tigers, the issue is he didn’t pay his bills,” Seiber said. “The family, they’re taking it pretty hard; it’s like losing your kids.”

The family had planned to keep Samson and Delilah, but when they realized their cages weren’t stable enough for transport, they asked Cat Tales to take the two older cats, Seiber said. Cat Tales volunteered to take all four Siberian tigers.

Mike Wyche, Cat Tales curator, said these are the first Siberians for the sanctuary, although Cat Tales has one Siberian-Bengal tiger hybrid among a dozen Bengal and royal white Bengal tigers.

On Wednesday, Wyche and his staffers tranquilized the cats and tested them for disease before the drive to Spokane County. Cat Tales also will raise Juliet’s cub when it is born, Wyche said.

Wyche said the tigers appear to be in good shape. “I have no doubt in my mind these people did care for their animals,” he said.

Once at Cat Tales, the siblings will live together and the parents will live in a separate area, Wyche said. Cat Tales, a nonprofit zoo, is remodeling its big-cat sanctuary and the 400- to 650-pound tigers will soon have access to more play space and a waterfall.

When Mason’s family moved to Napavine, Lewis County did not have a dangerous-animal ordinance that included tigers, Seiber said. The county recently approved a new ordinance placing tighter restrictions on dangerous animals, including mandatory insurance policies and guidelines on enclosures.

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