Male Bengal/Siberian Tiger
If you saw The Tiger Next Door on Animal Planet, then you saw the horrid conditions at the facility owned by Dennis Hill in Flatrock, Indiana. The Tiger Next Door didn’t air until 3/25/2010 and it was about USDA taking away Hill’s permit and the DNR (Dept. of Natural Resources) seizing all but three tigers in 2005. What the show doesn’t bring out is that the conditions you saw in the movie were far better than when DNR first inspected, although there were a few glimpses of tigers in mud up to their bellies, and it doesn’t show that the awful, pre 2005 conditions were the status quo as far back as 1995 when I was there.
The tigers in the documentary, The Tiger Next Door, that ended up at Joe Taft’s place in Indiana, named Tony and Patty where Shere Khan’s parents. When I visited in 1995 he had rows upon rows of dog run styled cages, a foot or more deep in rotting feces and mud, filthy water pans, flimsy cages, some had only a rope or belt to hold a door shut, no roofs on many of the cages and then there was the barn. You didn’t see much of it in the film, but it was dark, filthy and crammed as full of leopards, tigers, cougars and other exotic cats as could be fitted in tiny, barren cages.
The version on Animal Planet also didn’t show much of Dennis Hill’s house and the obvious signs of hoarding. It was so nasty I didn’t want to touch anything in the house. My skin crawled from fleas and mites. I couldn’t wait to get out of the house and back to our plane, but that is when I saw Shere Khan.
Shere Khan stole our hearts when we saw him on 3/12/95. Though he was bred to be a White Tiger, he was born “the wrong color.” His birth was a result of the incessant demand for White Tigers by a public that is fascinated by oddities. Though many people believe that the White Tiger is an “endangered” species that should be bred to be saved, this is a total lie.
The White Tiger results from a color mutation that happens infrequently in the wild and usually is not passed along. White animals in a forest environment would not live long due to their inability to hide and sneak up on prey. When you hear the phrase “survival of the fittest,” remember that nature does not allow the genetically mutated White Tiger to survive in the wild nor should we in captivity.
Shere Khan did not have much of a chance for survival from the start. Dennis Hill had pre-sold him as a white cub, but the purchaser kept putting off his delivery date. He finally cancelled the sale when Shere Khan was already four months old. The breeders were left with a quickly growing cub on their hands and no other facilities for him other than a small carrier.
He was up to his belly in feces and decaying food in a pet taxi that seemed to just bust at the seams with tiger fur. He never got the vitamins and exercise he needed as a growing cub, so his back legs were badly underdeveloped. He was very sick for a long time and suffered major problems from calcium deficiency. X-rays showed that his baby canine teeth were rotting in their sockets from his malnourishment and they had to be excised because they had rotted through his face. His bones were mere paper shells and one wrong jump could easily break a leg.
We supplemented him three times a day with calcium to encourage healthy bones and teeth. Shere Khan is a perfect example of why people should not be allowed to have such animals as pets. Though he grew to be well over 700 pounds and was picture of health for most of his life, it has been a long, expensive road.
His 3-acre cat-a-tat provided him with plenty of room to run through the marsh and swim in the spring-fed lake. He was been neutered so that there is no “accidental” breeding with his constant companion and playmate China Doll.
Dennis Hill’s facility was finally shut down by USDA and the Indiana DNR in 2005.
China Doll passed away in April of 2014 and Shere Khan has been suffering from debilitating arthritis and advanced kidney disease. On August 27, 2014 we made the decision to end his life humanely and hope that he and China Doll are once again together in the afterlife.
See More Pages About Shere Khan:
Wildcat Walkabout Video on May 1, 2014 – http://bigcatrescue.org/now-big-cat-rescue-may-2-2014/
Becky Gagliardo Apr 15, 2016
Took me a long time to even be able to write anything here – crying as I do this. Our king, our most magnificent and beloved ambassador. Know that you were so loved and are missed more than any of us can say. Run free with China Doll and never be in pain again.
Sharon Henry Sep 4, 2014
Dear sweet Khan, what a beautiful and mighty soul you were. I believe your purpose here on earth was to teach us many things, not the least of which was love. I am a better person for having known you. Our beloved Khan, you will live on in our hearts forevermore, and forever you will be loved.
Marie Schoubert Sep 4, 2014
Our King is gone to reunite with his Queen. I feel so blessed to have known him, cared for him and loved him so so so very much. I will miss him, but I know he is happy with China now and he is showing her how he learn to finally chuff like her… I still can see them both together in their big enclosure. I know they are still with us and always will be. R.I.P. beautiful Sheer Khan. I love you FOREVER!!!!
Unknown Sep 4, 2014
Khanny khan what can I say! I am heartbroken that you have left us but I hope you have finally been reunited with China and you can both now run free. I am so happy I got to spend the morning sitting by your side for 5 hours to take videos of you, that time will mean more to me now than I ever imagined it would. You held on strong and loved been fed from a stick all of your meals and many times I watched you be so picky that if it fell on the floor you would not eat it. You will be truly treasured by everyone who loved BCR and will never be forgotten xxx
Diana Rao Sep 3, 2014
One of our most beloved tigers has passed & he will be desperately missed. However the circumstances that brought him to BCR was gave BCR the impetus to work tirelessly to put BCR on the map for advocating on behalf of exotic pets like him. I will always have the memories of Khan being “bossed” around by China and the many wonderful escapades they would get into, especially at Halloween. R.I.P. beautiful Khan. Hope you are reunited with your girlfriend China.
Sharon Dower Sep 3, 2014
Beautiful boy. To me BCR will always be the pictures of Khan and China looking happy and regal. They will both be missed by all of the staff, volunteers and even our guests. I will miss the chuffs and belly rolls that were granted to me on rare and wonderful occasions. Be free and happy Khan and China.
Regina Rinaldi Sep 3, 2014
We’ve lost our king, our ambassador. Shere Khan is an icon. What a beautiful tiger, with a beautiful soul. He will live on in all of us. I don’t think there is a volunteer, past or present, who wasn’t touched by Khan’s presence. We knew the day was coming, but it came all too soon for his keepers. But he knew it was time, you could see it in his eyes. He was content being waited on hand and foot by his keepers, feeding him off a stick, turning on his cooling mister, moving his water bucket because it was 3 inches past where he could reach. It was unconditional love for us, his keepers, and I know he felt it. Have a peaceful crossing Khannie and run, run, run, with your true love China Doll.
Carole Baskin Sep 3, 2014
When most people think about Big Cat Rescue, I think they picture Shere Khan. He has been the icon of this sanctuary his entire life.
More Memorials at https://bigcatrescue.org/category/memorials/