Sapphire Tiger taking a bath so she looks purr-fect


Update 4/2/2021  Sadly we had to euthanize Sapphire Tiger tonight. She had significant increase in her kidney values to end stage values. She didn’t have any signs of an infection. Her blood work in 2019 was bad and even worse later in 2019 so we expected it would be her kidneys today. Her kidneys were even worse than Pharaoh’s. She had severe cataracts which makes us think she may have been much older than what we had originally guessed. When we rescue cats and the owners are as hateful as hers were we don’t get proper information. She ate up until yesterday, but was decreasing intake since last Saturday. We weren’t sure if it was heat related until yesterday. There is no way she would tolerate IV fluids on an ongoing basis so the kindest, if not hardest, thing was to let her pass peacefully in her sleep with a little help from Dr. Justin Boorstein Previously:  Female White Tigress Exact DOB Unknown Estimated 2010 Arrived August 2015 Sapphire loves to stalk Jasmine and can be quite playful with her as their enclosures are right next door to one another. You will often find her lounging in her pool, especially in the mornings. Sapphire seems to enjoy Operant Conditioning sessions as demonstrated here with Afton Tasler.
Sapphire seems to enjoy Operant Conditioning sessions as demonstrated here with Afton Tasler
Sapphire Tiger with Afton Tasler
Sapphire the White Tigress came to us amidst a four-year-long legal battle. She was seized by the Ohio Department of Agriculture and temporarily housed at Big Cat Rescue along with Jasmine Tigress, Dutchess Tigress, and Jinx the Black Leopard for the duration of court proceedings. Little did we know, that would take nearly four very long years!
Hmmmmm.... Christmas trees are pretty strange and interesting
Enrichment Time is always a fun time!

Announcement Day Finally Arrived 5/1/2019

We are excited to introduce our four newest permanent residents to you! Jasmine Tigress, Sapphire the White Tigress, Dutchess Tigress, and Jinx the Black Leopard have officially been signed over to Big Cat Rescue following a four year long legal battle between the Ohio Agricultural Department, the state of Ohio, and their former owner from Tiger Ridge Exotics, Kenny Hetrick.

Fab4 Witness Protection Cats We have very little history or information on these beautiful cats, including birth dates. What we can tell you is that they have spent the last few years happy, healthy, loved, and deservingly respected! Their futures are as bright as they can be given that they will remain in captivity. With your support, we know that these four, like ALL of our other cats, will have all of the love and support they could possibly want or need! Thank you for your ongoing support of our cats and our sanctuary. It is only because of the donations we receive from donors like you that we can continue to rescue and care for big cats. If you’d like to be one of the first to support the lifetime care of these four beautiful cats, you can do so here: Join us LIVE on Facebook throughout the day May 2, 2019, as we introduce these precious cats to you for the very first time.

Rescue History

In October of 2011, the Zanesville Massacre occurred. This was a historical event that changed the lives of many animals, people, and laws in the state of Ohio. Terry Thompson, a private owner of dozens of big cats and other wild animals, opened their cages and set them free amongst the town and ultimately to their deaths. He then followed suit and committed suicide by a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Terry Thompson put authorities in a position they should never have been in. They were forced to shoot and kill 38 big cats and 10 other wild animals. Amongst those lives lost were 18 Tigers, 17 Lions, and 3 Cougars. As a result of this tragic massacre, Ohio took the initiative and passed a state-wide ban on the private possession of big cats in June of 2012. Like all such bans, those who already owned big cats would be grandfathered in so long as they followed protocol. They would be required to register their cats with the state by filling out a form that stated how many cats they owned and what species they were. They ban also stated that those who owned these big cats were to never purchase another exotic cat or breed the ones that they already had. This ban came with a grace period of two years to follow through and get their animals registered. Most people had complied with the ban, and many of those who did not, quickly did so once the Ohio Department of Agriculture began enforcing it. Tiger Ridge Exotics, Kenny Hetrick, felt that the law did not apply to him and thought that by hiring a team of attorneys to fight it, he could get the ban overturned. He refused to report how many dangerous wild animals he owned. His facility has had a long history of reported violations leading up to the seizure of his animals. These violations include failure to provide adequate vet care, repeated failure to provide the animals with proper diets, failure to provide animals with clean water, failure to provide animals with clean, dry enclosures, and failure to comply with federal safety requirements. In October of 2014, two years after the ban was put in place, Hetrick was served a notice from the Ohio Department of Agriculture giving him 10 days to surrender his animals or he would face criminal charges. On multiple occasions, Hetrick made it known that he would rather euthanize the animals instead of making the state required upgrades in enclosures and care for his animals or have the animals taken from him. In January of 2015, the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) seized 11 wild animals from Kenny Hetrick. Those animals included 10 big cats (1 Lion, 6 Tigers, 1 Black Leopard, 1 Liger, and 1 Cougar) and 1 Kodiak Bear. These animals were initially housed at the states temporary holding facility in Reynoldsburg. There were 4 different vets that had visited Tiger Ridge on behalf of Leo the Lion’s declining health. The documentation from an inspector of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) goes as far back as August of 2014 (a year previous) of Leo being weak in the back end and having difficulties walking and all four came to the same conclusion; Leo needed to be euthanized. Hetrick decided that he knew better and let Leo continue to suffer. Sadly, Leo the Lion never knew peace outside of Tiger Ridge. He was euthanized in the states temporary holding facility after experiencing complications due to his chronic hip issues. Their medical staff observed prolonged lateral recumbency, loss of appetite, increased rate of breathing, and a decreased ability to move. The only humane choice to make was to end his suffering and assist him in crossing over the Rainbow Bridge. A few months later, the Ohio Department of Agriculture won temporary custody of the remaining animals until permanent custody could be decided upon. Those animals were split up and sent to three different facilities, including Big Cat Rescue, whose import papers were signed 8/25/2015, to be cared for properly awaiting the end result.  Of all three facilities who were providing care for these animals, Big Cat Rescue is the only one who is doing so without requirement of a boarding fee or any other ODA fees. When we agreed to take these cats in, provide for them, and protect them during the litigations, there were several things we had to agree to. The most important was that we could not share photos, videos, or any information with the public. With that in mind, we changed their names upon arrival. The names that we provided them with will continue to remain the same going forward. New identities and new lives only make sense coming from their backgrounds. Kenny Hetrick vowed to fight the state of Ohio on this ban and win back custody of his animals. He took his battle with the state all the way to the Ohio Supreme Court, which maintained in 2018 that the ODA had acted appropriately in seizing the animals. The ODA continued to move forward and filed a lawsuit for permanent possession of the animals. This would be the final step before legally awarding custody to the sanctuaries involved in caring for these beautiful animals, like Big Cat Rescue. Kenny Hetrick did not fight this final lawsuit and his deadline, April 29, 2019, has now come and gone. You can learn more about Kenny Hetrick here: Finally, on May 1st, 2019, these magnificent cats that we have been caring for these past few years have officially been signed over to Big Cat Rescue! It has been a long journey traveled for all involved, with many restrictions, but we are excited to finally introduce them to you! Ohio, which was once known as the breeding capital for exotic animals, took a strong stand and these cats were caught on the legal end of things. However, we also received other cats from Ohio due to this ban. Sheena Serval was the first surrender to the state to our knowledge. We also received Teisha Tiger, Zucari Serval, Cyrus Caracal, and Chaos Caracal in a result of this ban going into place. Too many big cats out there are suffering at the hands of human greed and emotion. Senseless lives were lost in the Zanesville Massacre and the publics eyes were opened. Now it is up to us to teach the public that we are the only ones who can change the endgame for these species. So many are on the brink of either endangerment or extinction and we need to speak up now before it is too late.

UPDATE May 18, 2019

Sapphire Tiger sees Dentist & Vet. Dr. Wade Gingerich is our guest dentist today. It was so awesome that he spoke out loud for all of us to hear. Dr. Wade Gingerich comes up from Miami to do this for free She was barely showing anything other than a preference to chew on one side so we wanted to get it taken care of before it escalates into an emergency.  They found she has an old break in her jaw that makes her chew lopsided. It looks like she had a broken jaw as a cub that healed poorly.  Keepers thought she winced on the left side, but the damage is actually on the right and up front. Getting Sapphire Tiger into the tunnel so she can be darted for her dental. Loading Sapphire Tiger Sapphire Tiger‘s Dental Part 1 Sapphire Tiger‘s Dental Part 2 Sapphire Tiger Sees the Dentist, Part 3 Sapphire the white tiger has a mass right in the middle of her forehead that Dr. Justin Boorstein is cutting off and sending out for testing.
Mass on Sapphire Tiger's forehead. Removed 5-18-2019 and sent out for testing.
Mass on Sapphire Tiger’s forehead. Removed 5-18-2019 and sent out for testing.

Things You Can Do 

Make the Call of the Wild

Make the Call of the Wild and help us pass the Big Cat Public Safety Act, Bill H.R. 1380, on behalf of cats like Sapphire. Text the word CATS to 52886 or visit and learn more about making a difference for these majestic creatures. We can unite and ensure that our voices are heard in place of those who cannot speak for themselves. These cats are suffering each and every day… Will you make that call?

Sponsor Sapphire the Tiger

Did you know you can sponsor/adopt Sapphire for as little as $25.00? All kits include the following appreciation gifts:
  • A four-page color fact sheet about your chosen species
  • Big Cat Rescue logo window decal
  • Registration Card you use to select the cat of your choice. The card has the link to our website to see the cats and their bios
  • 8×10 color photo of the cat you choose to sponsor with the cat name and your name as sponsor printed on it
If this interests you go to

Sapphire Tiger Photo Album on Facebook

We are working on building a Facebook Photo Album for Sapphire now. We will be adding more photos.

How to Donate at NO COST to YOU!!

You can donate to the cats at NO COST TO YOU when you select BCR as your charity on Amazon Smile and shop instead of It is exactly the same as regular Amazon EXCEPT when you use the Smile URL Amazon donates .5% of your purchase to BCR. It’s added up to over $89,000 for the cats! Please visit for how to sign up and let us know you did so we can thank you. ?

Your Purr-chase of Sapphire Tiger Gear helps support the care of the cats

You can find shirts, tote bags, mugs, necklaces, mousepads and so many more fun items featuring Sapphire in our online gift shops. Go to reach gift shop linked below and search “Sapphire.” Your PURRchases of Sapphire Gear helps us provide for all the cats at Big Cat Rescue and work toward ending the abuse and exploitation of big cats.

General Info About White Tigers

Sapphire, like all White tigers in the United States, is the result of severe generational inbreeding of genetically defective animals for a particular colored coat and even worse, they are all hybrid or crossbred animals. On top of being inbred, these poor cats suffer from a plethora of health issues. All white tigers are cross-eyed due to their optical nerve being wired to the wrong side of the brain. Although the obviousness of being cross-eyed differs, there is no denying that they all suffer from the condition. Unfortunately, on top of the smaller abnormalities, they also deal with defects that can be debilitating, and at times, even lethal, internal and external conditions and characteristics, club feet, cleft palates, spinal deformities, and defective organs. You can learn so much more about the truth behind White Tigers here:

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  1. Rest in peace beautiful Sapphire Tigress. You lived a difficult life but were able to be happy and know love in the last years of your life at Big Cat Rescue. You fought the good fight but no longer have to fight: your tired body can rest. You have peacefully crossed the Rainbow Bridge and though we will miss you everyday, heaven has a beautiful tigress spirit to join the other that have gone before. May Sapphire roam the forests of Eternity in peace and love.

  2. Thank you so much for sharing these beautiful cats with us and prayers for you for all you have done and will do to love and care for these beautiful babies. I’m also sad about Sapphire she was amazing. Loved seeing her on the lives. And again thank you all for all you do.

  3. Oh poor girl. Sapphire may you finally run free as you were meant to be . my thoughts and prayers go out to everyone at BCR and Dr J. Thank you for everything you do. Hugs to all

    1. Oh, my goodness! So shocking! We’ll miss this feisty girl. My heart goes out to Afton and all the BCR family. I know Sapphire was a dear one of hers. I can’t even fathom not seeing her running around. ?? I’m so sorry, BCR! You’re in my prayers!

  4. Such sad news! My thoughts and prayers go out to Big Cat Rescue who loved and cared for Sapphire. She was such a character and I loved seeing her. I always thought life was hard for her, certainly not due to lack of love or attention, but because of being born a white tiger (which does not even exist) through inbreeding, with crossed-eyes, an anxious temperament and all sorts of other genetic problems. Run free dear Sapphire. You will be missed.

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