Update: Argentinian Train Tigers Thrive After 4 Months in South Africa!
South Africa, Bethlehem | Tiger Mafalda at LIONSROCK Big Cat Sanctuary in Bethlehem in South Africa | Photo Cred: FOUR PAWS | Daniel Born

The former ‘train tigers’ that spent over 15 years stuck in a train carriage in Argentina are thriving in their new home in South Africa.


Eastern Cape, South Africa (11 July 2022) – By the 13th of July, the four train tigers from Argentina will have watched the South African sunrise unburdened by cage bars over the plains for more than 120 days.

A big difference from watching life through bars in a train cage for more than 15 years.

Since the animal welfare organization FOUR PAWS fetched the tigers in San Luis, Argentina and brought them to South Africa in March this year, they have thrived under the care of the LIONSROCK team under the leadership of the site manager, Hildegard Pirker, with the female tiger Mafalda recently successfully passing her medical examination and having had a medical procedure done.

The 94-kilogram female tiger found her feet in the African sun in an enclosure with a younger male tiger, Gustavo, where she is recovering from being spayed recently. She got a clean bill of health from resident LIONSROCK vet Christine Steyrer after she was X-rayed, her teeth and claws were checked, and other health checks were made.

The medical procedure and examination led to a busy day for Mafalda, who was named after an Argentinian comic strip character. She was taken to the Sanctuary’s clinic, where the surgery was undertaken. Pirker says Mafalda is back to doing what she likes best.

When she touched the grass during their release early in March, it was the first day of the rest of a much better life for the group’s only female.

“She has been given time to settle in after the medical intervention but is back to enjoying what she has come to like best, like jumping and exploring. She has a sweet nature and is very excited when feeding time comes around.”

Male tiger Gustavo and Mafalda are together in their own patch as they get along well together. He is using his newly found freedom to cover all the space he can and was initially very overexcited when it came to feeding time. He has, however, learned that there is enough food to go around and that he does not need to compete during mealtimes. Gustavo is taking life a little bit slower now, is very attached to Mafalda and was protective of her for a few days after the medical intervention.

The oldest male, Sandro, also had to undergo a minor medical intervention soon after their arrival and is now quite settled in his own enclosure.

Says Pirker: “He responded well to treatment from inflammation and a gastrointestinal disorder. He is still constantly being monitored and stays in his own enclosure. We are preparing him for a move into our special care unit, but we want to get the timing right so that he will only have to be moved once. “

Named after the Argentinian soccerplayer Lionel Messi, the young male tiger Messi enjoys alone in his enclosure. Pirker says he has grown calmer and enjoys regular enrichment. He has more than enough space to enjoy himself and is doing well.“

The rescue in March of the four tigers marks the first rescue mission done by FOUR PAWS in South America.

Sources: FOUR PAWS 
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