LOS ANGELES (AP) — Thriller, a tiger that belonged to Michael Jackson when the entertainer lived at his Neverland ranch, has died of lung cancer at actress-activist Tippi Hedren's wildlife preserve in California.
The 13-year-old, 375-pound tiger died June 11, Hedren said Wednesday. A necropsy was performed and the tiger was cremated. Staff workers will hold a private service when the ashes are buried in a section of the preserve set aside for animals that die there.
Thriller and her brother Sabu were born on Nov. 20, 1998, and lived with Jackson until May 4, 2006, Hedren said.
When Jackson left Neverland for good, his veterinarian asked Hedren to take the cats at her Shambala Preserve in Acton, about 50 miles north of Los Angeles.
Other Neverland animals, including giraffes, flamingos, orangutans, elephants and dozens of reptiles, were sent to other sanctuaries in other parts of the country.
Shambala didn't have a lot of room, but Hedren built a $79,000 habitat next to the preserve's lake and there were trees and a hill and Thriller had a great life with Sabu, she said.
"Thriller was a real piece of work, one gutsy girl. She ruled Sabu's life. It was humorous to watch the whole relationship. She did things to him that male tigers would normally never allow. She would steal food from him. That's unheard of. She ruled the roost, was very independent and tough," Hedren said.
Unlike many of the animals at the preserve, Thriller and Sabu arrived at the compound in excellent health physically and emotionally, Hedren said.
There are 15 tigers at the compound, but Sabu is now alone in the habitat he shared with Thriller and he'll probably stay that way, Hedren said.
Tigers are loners in the wild, she explained.
Because Thriller was a famous tiger, she was very popular with visitors and media, Hedren said. "She didn't care. She was not a diva and didn't mug for the camera. We all loved her for it."
Staff was trying to cope with Thriller's death, Hedren said. "It's very hard for all of us when these animals go away. Fortunately for Sabu and Thriller, they came in healthy and content. They had no problem with being in quarantine for 30 days. They adjusted so well."
Most of the animals at Shambala, which requires $75,000 in donations every month to stay open, have trouble adjusting because they have such abusive pasts, Hedren said.
Jackson, who died in 2009, often talked about his love of animals, but he never called to check on the tigers and he never sent any money to help pay for their care, Hedren said.
A year after the tigers arrived, Hedren said staff sent a package of photos of Sabu and Thriller and T-shirts and other memorabilia to Jackson's children, "but we never heard a word back. I just think it's odd."
A call to a spokesman for Jackson's estate was not immediately returned. The estate did not exist when the animals were transferred.
Also On Black America Web:
This Week’s Celebrity Instagrams (11/26-12/2)
30 photos Launch gallery
1. Little Legend and Puddy 😍😍😍😍
1 of 30
2. "You on point Phife?" "all the time,Tip". 💥 #bannedfromnormal
2 of 30
3. Vegan! The Impossible burger at Crossroads
3 of 30
4. Lawrence #BeforeandAfterEpisodes 1-4: 184lbs 13% body fatEpisode 8: 196lbs 8% body fat S/O @coachdaveboxing with the works outs and @kildareriordan with the nutrition
4 of 30
5. Jus haaaanngin out
5 of 30
6. Meanwhile back at home in Atlanta GA someone mad they not on the 🛳. 😳
6 of 30
7. No limits... Photo cred: Chris Bridges @ludacris
7 of 30
8. new new
8 of 30
9. Apparently my 260lbs is too much for the actual vines in the Hawaiian jungles to hold me without breaking and me falling hundreds of feet. So for safety purposes, I'm forced to swing thru #Jumanjj on wires strong enough to hold 12 adult buffaloes and 1 adult Rock. #OnSet #Jumanji #IronicallyIEatBuffaloDailyForLunch #MoreManThanNatureKnowsWhatToDoWith
9 of 30
10. hey ma! 🎎#wcw 💙
10 of 30
11. Surprise visit to our factories!!! #GoodAmerican #USA
11 of 30
12 of 30
13. Peachy Keen 🔥✨⚡️
13 of 30
14. If this don't look thankful I don't know what does. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. #UltraBlessed #24kMagic #SweetPotatoFly
14 of 30
15. Late nights @nbcmarlon with the writers... we in here!!!
15 of 30
16. There goes my baaaaaaaaabbbbyyyyy #QueenKingMagic!!! We're up to something! Ira BIG!!! Stay out our buisness -
16 of 30
17. You want to win every game you play but when you come home to these faces... who cares. #ILoveYouGirls best part of my day, everyday!
17 of 30
18. Steady,steady..... full size jenga.. "I got this one "???? Or do I ?
18 of 30
19. Cornrows kind of day 😉@dontaysavoy2 you convinced me and I love. ❤️️
19 of 30
20. #BrotherlyLove #tbt
20 of 30
21 of 30
22. #basel #TeamLOVE @kingcombs
22 of 30
23. Just introduced a special screening of @directher 's groundbreaking (must see) documentary @13thfilm with my brother @themichaelealy | @unitedblackout #blackoutblackfriday
23 of 30
24. Me & Vanessa Williams giving #DuckLips #Pose on the set of #DaytimeDivas @vh1 - Coming Soon to a tv near you. Lol. - My make up done by @makeupsurgeon
24 of 30
25. This picture just makes me wanna praise the Lord, you hear me!!!!!! Yes Lord brotha #TEDDYCAMPBELL What a #man !!! You are everything right on this picture husband ......... #gorgeous #stylish #classy #strong #masculine #king #sexy #debonair #gentlemenstyle And that #bible in your hand just seals the deal for me (probably cause i know that, that is what helped you become just as amazing as you look😘). While my heart and mind experiences the goodness of God at #church on Sundays, my eyes experiences the goodness of Teddy😍. Amen somebody🙌🏽. "Bless the Lord oh my soul and all that is within me bless his holy name" #myman #myhusband #goodman #blackman #dapperman #godlyman #goodfather #mybestfriend
25 of 30
26. Yesterday was my mama's 53rd birthday!!!!! Got to celebrate with her all day. If this is what I have to look forward to I can't wait. Looking like a soft bucket a cocoa butter. Yaaaaaaaaaas! 😍😍😍 love you mommy!
26 of 30
27. "Shout out to @PureAtlanta for getting the family right"....I'm loving this jogger. 😍😍
27 of 30
28. This pic warms my heart ❤️ #myLogiebeans and aunt aunt umba @itowandabraxton 😘
28 of 30
29. You will always be my baby😜. #HappyBirthdayReginae #mybaby18
29 of 30
30. GC "Gods Child" Red on Red SweatSuit available now at www.MonicaApparel.com ... Take Your Crown wherever you go!! I'm pictured in a Medium... Go to the site now for other options ... cc: @trukernell
30 of 30