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" To animals born in captivity and fated to be ignored and abused, I've dedicated this organization." - Bobbi Brink, Founder
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  • Himmel - Tiger at Lions Tigers & Bears Sanctuary, Alpine
Tiger
Species: Panthera Tigris
Born: 5/9/2015
Rescued:
Died: 1/13/2016
Gender: Male
Favorite Food: chicken

Remembering Himmel, Our Goofy Tiger Cub

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

Himmel arrived at Lions Tigers & Bears 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 13, 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 stated "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 Fish & Wildlife stepped in and asked Lions Tigers & Bears 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 2015.

"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 than 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.