{ Hybrid Tiger }


Adoptions are an ideal way of helping save some of the rarest cats in the world, whether it be the smallest wild cat, the Sri Lankan rusty spotted cat, the rarest of all big cats, the Amur leopard or the largest of big cats, the magnificent Amur tiger.

Adopting helps with the cats husbandry, including food and veterinary care when required.

As an adopter you are able to visit on one of the Supporters Afternoons run throughout the year, (one visit per 12 month adoption period); where you will be able to tour our site at your leisure, enjoy talks from the keepers followed by light refreshments. There is also the opportunity of bringing up to 4 guests for a suggested donation of £25 each.



Kushka has spent the best part of her days as a performer and breeder in the Great British Circus. Taken from the circus environment in 2012, she spent a brief period at Marwell, as a companion for a young female tiger called Mila. However it quickly became clear that Kushka will only tolerate her own company.

Since moving to WHF, The Big Cat Sanctuary she has calmed considerably, helped by a daily routine and structure. She has lost the majority of her hearing now, but that doesn’t stop her from giving the occasional chuff to neighbour Tamair.

The tiger is the largest of the 5 species of ‘Big Cat’.  (The other 4 being the lion, jaguar, leopard and snow leopard). They are possibly the most recognizable of the cat family with their orange base colour and black stripes. Today there are six sub-species remaining inhabiting several countries worldwide.

There are also many tigers found within the captive industry known as ‘Hybrid tigers’.

These are typically animals from the very early days of captive collections and circuses, when animal records were not routinely kept and genetics not understood. Because of this, sub-species may have been bred together so are essentially not ‘pure’ and are of no genetic value to breeding programs at present. Quite often traits of a sub-species may be shown. For example, a hybrid tiger may have the pale colouring of an Amur, yet also possess the characteristic ruff of fur around the face like a Sumatran. As with most hybrids, health problems may become apparent once the animal gets older. Problems such as arthritis are common, as often tigers are bred simply for their large size causing a lot of pressure on the joints, leading to degeneration. Dental and digestive problems may also occur. The hybrid tiger is not found within the wider tiger population, as sub species are geographically separated so would not naturally mix.

In the early days of animals being kept and ‘collected’ for display to paying guests, things like genetics and breeding programs were not in effect. Therefore a male and female tiger were often bred together regardless of their heritage and genetic make-up. Such tigers were the basis of circus collections and zoos ‘starting up’.

At the current time these tigers are now elderly and formed the basis for a lot of reputable zoos in their early days. At present WHF, The Big Cat Sanctuary houses three hybrid tigers, all taken from circus backgrounds and here for retirement, not breeding. They also allow us to educate our guests on the importance of breeding programs and the conservation of tiger sub-species.