Winston - One of the Rescued Colton Tigers - Passes Away
Animal Stories from All-Creatures.org

FROM

Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS)
October 2016

[For background, please read Ten Years Ago This Month, The Colton Tiger Story - The Largest Big Cat Rescue In U.S. History.]

Winston is remembered as a gentle soul, who was never aggressive towards people or other tigers. He was calm and affectionate with his close tiger friend Claude for many years, the two of them either playing or sleeping close together. Winston's neighbor Sunita, an older and much smaller female tiger, seemed to have a crush on him and would attentively groom his fur through the fence that separated their habitats. After Claude and Sunita passed away, Winston became friendly with his new neighbor Jake, and the two tigers would often run side by side up and down the hills of their oak forested habitat. Just as often, Winston could be seen stretched out, sound asleep on his favorite perch or in a comfortable spot under a tree.

winston rescued tiger

PAWS is sad to report that Winston the tiger has passed away. He was one of 39 tigers rescued by PAWS more than 12 years ago from conditions of severe abuse and neglect at a facility called Tiger Rescue in Colton, California. The defunct, pseudo-sanctuary was raided and shut down by authorities, and the task of finding homes for 54 big cats began. This was the single largest rescue of tigers ever to have occurred in the U.S., and involved the heroic and monumental efforts of many organizations and individuals to successfully and safely bring 39 needy tigers to their permanent home at our ARK 2000 sanctuary in San Andreas, California.

Winston is remembered as a gentle soul, who was never aggressive towards people or other tigers. He was calm and affectionate with his close tiger friend Claude for many years, the two of them either playing or sleeping close together. Winston's neighbor Sunita, an older and much smaller female tiger, seemed to have a crush on him and would attentively groom his fur through the fence that separated their habitats. After Claude and Sunita passed away, Winston became friendly with his new neighbor Jake, and the two tigers would often run side by side up and down the hills of their oak forested habitat. Just as often, Winston could be seen stretched out, sound asleep on his favorite perch or in a comfortable spot under a tree.

PAWS' tiger supervisor Renae recalls that Winston always greeted keepers with a "chuff" - a soft and friendly vocalization common to tigers. Keeper Adam remembers his expressive face, and keeper Jesse remembers him rolling and playing in pine branches and leaves, and describes him as "just always a happy tiger." Often, while keepers were cleaning adjoining enclosures, Winston would wait for just the right moment to pounce from a hiding spot behind his pool, and would then playfully prance around with a little bounce in his step.

As Winston got older he began to have health problems which are all too common in elderly tigers in captivity, including arthritis and kidney disease. In 2014, he began to have nosebleeds, and was diagnosed with a large but benign nasal polyp by the PAWS veterinary staff. Winston was transported to the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital at University of California, Davis, in 2014 for a CT scan, as well as surgical removal of the polyp. Surgeons were unable to remove it completely because of its challenging location deep inside his nose and its deep attachment to underlying tissue. We were warned that the polyp would probably grow back. For the past two years since his nasal surgery, Winston enjoyed a very good quality of life, receiving attentive care from PAWS' veterinarians and extra TLC from our dedicated keepers.

While Winston's nasal mass did regrow slowly, it was ultimately his kidney disease that caused a sudden decline in his condition in late September. When it was clear that the disease had worsened to the point where medications and treatments no longer had any effect, the difficult but most compassionate decision was made to humanely euthanize him.

Always to be remembered in our hearts for his gentle nature, Winston passed from this life on September 28th, surrounded by those who loved and cared for him. We estimate his age at time of death to be 19+ years.

DONATE IN MEMORY OF WINSTON at Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS).


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