Maßweiler, 7 December 2023 – On 5 December, the Czech Ministry of Environment rescued a one-year-old white tiger cub named Ramba from illegal private keeping in the Czech Republic. Ramba was kept against her species-specific needs in the family home of a Czech MMA fighter. Global animal welfare organisation FOUR PAWS is supporting the authorities and provides a species-appropriate new home for the young tigress at its TIERART Wild Animal Sanctuary in Germany. At TIERART, Ramba will live near her sister Charlota, who was rescued by FOUR PAWS earlier this July.
Thousands of big cats like Ramba fall victim to the commercial illegal trade in Europe every year. FOUR PAWS calls on all EU Member States to implement the EU Tiger Guidance to prevent the suffering and exploitation of more tigers.
Ramba’s former owner, Czech MMA fighter Karlos Vémola, initially appealed the confiscation of Ramba but this appeal was denied on 2 November. After long negotiations, he handed over Ramba on 5 December. Following the necessary preparations, Ramba was transferred to her new home immediately. A wildlife veterinarian accompanied the transfer to ensure her wellbeing.
“Separating a tiger cub like Ramba from her mother, only to sell her into the illegal wildlife trade to be exploited as a pet, is cruel. White tigers like her often come from inbreeding, which can lead to long-term health issues. The keeping of dangerous predators like tigers in a family home is highly questionable from a safety perspective as well. Instead of being paraded as a status symbol around social media, Ramba needs specialised care in an environment appropriate to her species. We are glad that thanks to the great cooperation with the authorities, we can now provide that for her. We hope to see her thrive with her sister at TIERART.”
Barbara van Genne, Director of the Wild Animal department at FOUR PAWS
The Czech police are investigating both Ramba’s and Charlota’s origin, as legal proceedings are ongoing. Currently, it is only legal to keep a tiger in the Czech Republic with proper documentation proving legal origin and acquisition of the specimen. According to the Czech CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) National Legislation all tigers must be registered by the competent Regional Management Authority. Moreover, the keeping of tigers is subject to permission granted by the competent veterinary bodies in the Czech Republic.
“The breeder was not able to prove the legal origin of the animal or the circumstances of its acquisition, thus violating the Czech Endangered Species Act. In addition, he submitted false documents about the parents of the tiger. It is also necessary to have a veterinary permit to breed tigers. Neither of these conditions was met. Moreover, contact breeding of big cats has a negative impact on the animals kept. The cubs are weaned early from their mothers in order to form a bond with humans. This generates a constant demand for young animals suitable for further short-term domestication. Tigers are not pets and any closer relationship between breeder and animal is not desirable and is detrimental to the animal,” says Petr Bejček, Director of the Czech Environmental Inspectorate.
Implementation of EU Tiger Guidance is key for better wild animal protection
Wild animals have complex ecological needs and requirements regarding nutrition, space, behaviour, climate and social structure. Private owners often lack the resources, qualifications and knowledge that would allow them to fulfil the high requirements that the species need. The EU Tiger Guidance, once properly implemented by the Member States, will be a vital step in curbing the trade of captive tigers and halting their commercial use, including private ownership.
“Inconsistent legislation among European countries enables easy purchase and cross-border movement of tigers, contributing to their presence on social media and as pets. Legal trade can serve as a conduit for illegal trade of tigers and their parts and derivatives for additional purposes such as the production of Traditional Medicine. To effectively combat this abuse of tigers, a comprehensive ban on commercial breeding and trade of tigers within Europe and all Member States' jurisdictions is necessary to support enforcement efforts. We implore all Member States to effectively implement the recently released EU Tiger Guidance,” says van Genne.
The commercial value of inbred white tigers
White tigers and lions are often mistakenly believed to be a separate species from their conventionally coloured counterparts. However, their distinctive white fur is a result of a rare recessive genetic mutation rather than albinism. While this mutation does occur naturally in the wild, its expression requires both parents to carry it. Consequently, white tigers and lions are rare in their natural habitats. In captivity, however, they are highly sought after for their visual appeal to visitors, leading breeders to intentionally crossbreed animals that carry this recessive mutation. Unfortunately, this practice often involves inbreeding, which has adverse effects on the health and well-being of the animals. As a result, captive white tigers and lions frequently suffer from growth abnormalities, for example crossed eyes, malformed bones and other developmental conditions that were found after Charlota’s veterinary examination.
TIERART Wild Animal Sanctuary
TIERART Wild Animal Sanctuary, which is run by FOUR PAWS in Maßweiler, Germany, provides a species-appropriate home for big cats that were rescued from poor conditions in zoos, circuses or in private captivity. TIERART houses and cares for numerous native wild animals such as foxes, badgers, wild cats, hares or hedgehogs. In 2021, the first sanctuary for orphaned lynx opened on the grounds of the sanctuary. Many of the native animals that are taken in at TIERART receive medical care and are released back into the wild once recovered. Animals that cannot be released back into the wild and exotic animals like tigers find a permanent, species-appropriate home.
FOUR PAWS on Social Media
Stay up to date on this topic and on all FOUR PAWS activities on our social media channels:
or subscribe to FOUR PAWS International newsletter.
FOUR PAWS is the global animal welfare organisation for animals under direct human influence, which reveals suffering, rescues animals in need and protects them. Founded in 1988 in Vienna by Heli Dungler and friends, the organisation advocates for a world where humans treat animals with respect, empathy and understanding. The sustainable campaigns and projects of FOUR PAWS focus on companion animals including stray dogs and cats, farm animals and wild animals – such as bears, big cats and orangutans – kept in inappropriate conditions as well as in disaster and conflict zones. With offices in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Kosovo, the Netherlands, Switzerland, South Africa, Thailand, Ukraine, the UK, the USA and Vietnam as well as sanctuaries for rescued animals in eleven countries, FOUR PAWS provides rapid help and long-term solutions. www.four-paws.org