VENTURA COUNTY, Calif. - In 2017, a Bengal tiger cub was illegally owned and discovered when YouTube personality Logan Paul posted a video of the animal. The video quickly went viral as authorities were notified to rescue it.
The tiger was taken to America’s Teaching Zoo at Moorpark College and now Neil the tiger is not only healthier than ever, but found a forever home in Ventura County.
The 400-pound Bengal tiger is now a permanent resident at America’s Teaching Zoo.
“When we got Neil he was our one and only tiger,” said Mara Rodriguez, who is part of the staff at America’s Teaching Zoo.
Neil came to the zoo when he was just five months old back in 2017. That's when authorities discovered that the tiger was illegally owned and being mistreated through a video that was posted by YouTube personality Logan Paul.
“It was very obvious to me with my years of animal training and behavior experience that I was observing an animal that was in desperate need of emotional support and some rehabilitation in the sense that he seemed pretty terrified of most humans, especially men,” said Rodriguez.
Mara Rodriguez has been with Neil since day one, building a relationship and guiding him back to health.
“It was through many, many hours, and months that we formed this relationship that was really unlike anything I have ever formed with an animal,” said Rodriguez.
About a month after getting Neil, another zoo donated a female tiger named Karma.
“They happen to be two weeks apart and they have been best friends ever since,” said Rodriguez.
This is the first time the teaching zoo has had tigers, and students are taking full advantage of the opportunity.
“Working with Neil and Karma is my first experience with any big cat, nonetheless a tiger, so getting to work with a pair of them and getting to see their natural behaviors has been a blessing,” said Paige Vanoordt, a sophomore at Moorpark College.
Now the zoo is looking to expand to provide the best possible home for their newest additions.
“We want to offer and provide both of our tigers with a larger, more natural home and we are hoping to do that by fundraising over the next year or so and completing a project unlike anything we have done here,” said Rodriguez.
They are hoping to raise $2 million for a state of the art habitat. The enclosure will not only benefit the tigers, it will also create a unique experience for students and the public.