Tiger Freed From Circus Cage Touches Grass For The First Time
After spending nearly her entire life cooped up behind the bars in a cramped cage, Varvara the tiger is finally learning what it means to be free.
For more than a decade, the regal big cat had been made to perform tricks with a Bulgarian traveling circus, where she was denied even the most basic semblances of a natural existence. At the end of each show, after being paraded in front of screaming crowds, Varvara would invariably be placed back into her narrow confines.
But now, everything has changed for the better.
Earlier this year, a new law went into effect in Bulgaria making it illegal to use animals in circuses. With that, Varvara was no longer forced to perform, but her conditions were far from improved. The tiger's owner was ill-equipped to provide her with new accommodations, so she continued to languish in her cold, concrete cage. In that dark place, however, rays of hope would eventually shine through.
Rescuers from the international animal welfare group Four Paws were alerted to Varvara's sad plight, and they stepped in to help. They were able to secure the tigress's release, give her a much-needed medical checkup and coordinate her transfer to a more comfortable home.
Varvara was driven from Bulgaria to Germany, where Four Paws operates a sanctuary for rescued big cats. Once there, it wasn't long until she was given the chance to experience one of life's simple pleasures - the feel of grass beneath her paws.
"Just several minutes ago, we opened the doors and Varvara ran outside immediately and started to explore her new home closely," Four Paws wrote online. "After twelve years of living in a tiny cage, the former circus tiger finally has a natural environment in which to start living the life of a tiger."
YouTube/Four Paws International
Sadly, there are still big cats like Varvara in cages throughout the world, waiting for their chance to be free. To learn how you can help Four Paws in their efforts to bring relief, visit the group's website here.
Watch footage of Varvara's rescue in its entirety below.