Tippi He­dren’s Big Cats

Los Angeles Times - - PARADE - Visit Pa­rade.com/cathouse to learn about a woman who in­vited 700-plus stray cats into her Cal­i­for­nia home.

It was 1972 when ex­otic big cats first cap­tured ac­tress Tippi He­dren’s heart. She res­cued some lion cubs after shoot­ing two films in Africa. “I’ve al­ways been an an­i­mal lover and Africa was a dream,” says He­dren, 87, who’s best known for star­ring in Al­fred Hitch­cock’s The Birds and who pub­lished her mem­oir, Tippi, last year. “But we be­came very aware of the hor­rors of big game poach­ing and sport hunt­ing. En­vi­ron­men­tal­ists were telling us there’d be no wild an­i­mals left by 2000 if we didn’t do some­thing right away.”

In 1983 He­dren opened the Sham­bala Pre­serve on 40 acres of her prop­erty in Ac­ton, Calif., where she still lives, and founded the Roar Foun­da­tion to fund it. Sham­bala pro­vides tours and sa­faris to ed­u­cate the pub­lic about the dan­gers of pri­vate own­er­ship of ex­otic cats. When it was founded, any­one could breed, sell and ship ex­otic cats any­where in Amer­ica. “It was a gi­gan­tic busi­ness.

Bil­lions of dol­lars,” says He­dren, “on a par with il­le­gal drugs, ac­cord­ing to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Ser­vice.” In the 1990s she drafted the Cap­tive Wildlife Safety Act with her con­gress­man, and the bill was fi­nally signed into law in 2003.

Sham­bala has given sanc­tu­ary to more than 235 ex­otic fe­lines— from lions, tigers, cougars and leop­ards to lynx, tigon and liger—all con­fis­cated from road­side zoos and pri­vate cit­i­zens. He­dren has huge re­spect for any­one tak­ing in an­i­mals. “Peo­ple who res­cue an­i­mals are ba­si­cally an­gels,” she says, “and the an­i­mals in re­turn can re­ally save our lives.”

Tippi He­dren

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