• Species: Panthera Tigris
  • Born: 9/5/2015 to 2016
  • Sex: Male
  • Weight: 45 lbs.
  • Favorite Food: chicken

On January 13, 2016 Himmel, the young 6 month old tiger cub, tragically passed away. His sudden passing was heartbreaking to share.

Himmel arrived at LTB on September 5th, 2015. He came to us malnourished, declawed, and suffering from an umbilical hernia. We had concerns that he had other underlying issues, but through attentive care, proper nutrition and an enriching diet, Himmel appeared to be morphing from a frail cub into a young tiger with a playful personality and a full life ahead of him. As happy as he was, we knew he still had a hard road ahead of him, with his nutritional issues and pain everyday from cruelly being declawed.

Himmel underwent a routine veterinary procedure on January 13th, 2016 to be neutered and repair his hernia. Himmel was also scheduled for reparative surgery on his declawed paws in February.

Our medical team, led by Dr. Jane Meier, our lead veterinarian with over 40 years of experience, performed the procedure and used the opportunity to give Himmel his required vaccinations while he was under anesthesia.

The surgery went well and was uneventful. As Himmel was transitioning into surgical recovery, he suffered profound respiratory failure and collapse. Despite the best resuscitation efforts of the veterinary team and animal care staff, Himmel did not recover.

With any decision to perform medical procedures, the risks and benefits must always be weighed. Along with our medical team, we make our decisions based on careful planning and the information we have at the time, always putting the animal’s health and well-being first and foremost. The sudden loss of Himmel is a stark reminder of how even after thoughtful and thorough consideration of the benefits and hazards, you can never completely eliminate the risks of a medical procedure. Himmel’s passing is not only a blow to our sanctuary team, but one of the tragic consequences that stem from the indiscriminate captive breeding of exotic animals. With no family history to reference, it is hard to pinpoint an animal like Himmel’s underlying issues.

Dr. Meier states “The most likely cause of the problem was a severe allergic reaction, anaphylaxis, which occurred in response to one of the injections Himmel was given at the end of his surgery. This is the most serious type of allergic reaction and is often fatal. It is the same kind of reaction cause by peanut allergies in people and can happen so quickly and severely that even aggressive treatment is ineffective.”

Himmel was found roaming the streets of Hemet, California in early September 2015. He was anonymously turned into an animal shelter, when California Department of IMG_2612Fish & Wildlife stepped in and asked LTB to provide refuge to the three month old tiger cub.

Himmel’s name was inspired by the late Larry Himmel, local CBS 8 San Diego newscaster and longtime supporter of our sanctuary, after the name won the most votes on an online naming contest in October.

“Playful, Goofy, Awkward, Sweet ” – are just a few of the many ways we would describe this sweet boy. Even after the cruelty that he was forced to endure – born in captivity, ripped away from his mother and siblings, declawed, and left to fend for himself on the streets, this cub was a happy-go-lucky tiger that would shine a light on everyone’s day. Chock full of personality, and blessed with the coordination of two left feet, Himmel could always bring a smile to your face with his contagious pure bliss attitude on life.

We will not know why this had to happen to Himmel. Life sometimes is unexplainable and seemingly unfair. With any death, we are always left with so many questions, but in a life cut so short, we often can find no answers that comfort us. They say God never gives us more then we can handle and when he takes something He always gives back more. Himmel’s passing will continue to fuel our passion to stop the abuse that is the exotic animal trade – so no more cubs are forced to endure the perils that stem from this heinous trade. Himmel may not have been with us for long, but he left boundless paw prints on our hearts that will last forever.

Romp free our sweet boy, you surely will be missed.

Himmel’s Bio:

Lions Tigers & Bears (LTB) was called on by the California Department of Fish & Wildlife to provide refuge to a 3 month old tiger cub that was anonymously turned in to an animal shelter in Hemet on Sept. 3rd, 2015. As an accredited big cat and exotic animal rescue sanctuary, the Department deemed LTB the best fit to house the cub, as his origin is unknown and is under investigation.

The cub arrived at LTB on Saturday, Sept. 5th, 2015. LTB’s veterinarian team provided him with a full wellness exam including: physical examination, dental examination and blood and fecal analysis. The cub’s anterior paws had been declawed by his previous owner. This type of procedure is inherently cruel and can cause major complications later in life, including joint stiffness, chronic pain and arthritis.

“This cub is very young, and has been through a lot. A cub this age should still be with his mother and his litter mates. This is the most crucial period, developmentally in a tiger’s life.”
states Bobbi Brink, Founder/Director of Lions Tigers & Bears.

This cub is a perfect reminder of the sad reality for exotic animals like lions, tigers and bears that are born and bred in captivity. They may look cute and cuddly, but soon enough they will grow into a 500 pound apex predator with innate wild instincts. These animals DO NOT make good pets – they are wild animals. People are drawn to them, because they are unique and exotic- so they manage to buy them through the black market, but soon realize the full extent of what they’ve gotten themselves into. So they dump them and it is the cub that pays the ultimate price.