Friday, February 13, 2015

#Tiger Missing Link Foundation

KYTX - News, Weather, 

 Feb 12, 2015 
 KYTX) - Twenty years ago, an East Texas man founded the Tiger Missing Link Foundation to document tigers in captivity that were not part of an accredited zoo.

Today the Tiger Creek Wildlife Refuge is a place for unwanted big cats to find a home.
“It was tough, had to convince everyone what you're doing and why and build it. Starts out in the woods with one tiger,” Brian Werner said.

He has a special relationship with the 39 big cats in his care at the Tiger Creek Wildlife Refuge. “This cat bottle raised by me, he's leaning on me as authority, his friend or family member.”

In 1995, Brian moved his family into this small shack to start working on his big cat sanctuary and educational facility.

“I used some of the skills I learned in the military to survive, sustain us, we got by, it was tough,” he said. “Very humble beginnings, a lot of humility there.”

Brian's daughter Emily grew up out here and now works side-by-side with her dad.

“It makes me feel very proud, really great to watch him take his idea turn it into this incredible refuge,” said Emily Werner Owen.

Sammy, a rare Indochinese tiger, is one of the first big cats Brian rescued. Before long, he started getting calls to take in more cats that were abused, neglected or displaced.

“We actually took in two cats from Michael Jackson; one has passed on now, other still here.”
When Tiger Creek first opened, it only had small cages with one exercise yard.

“We started with one cage, built 16 habitats--20 more planned. 25 acres to 140. (We) basically try to keep it where tigers represent 80 percent; that's my legacy.”

In the early 1900's, more than 100,000 tigers lived in the wild; today only about 4,500 exist.
“(They were) hunted for their fur, meat, used in ancient Chinese medicinal medicine, it's quite sad.”
But Brian hopes they can continue to make a difference.

“We keep working, growing, plan to open this up in next three to four months this section.”
“I think our greatest accomplishment for these cats is building a model facility.”

It's a dream Emily plans to keep alive.

“Absolutely plan to carry it on, I have no idea what I would do without these cats, been such an integral part of my life,” Owen said.

Tiger Creek is open for public tours with more than 15,000 visitors a year. It is located near Tyler State Park. To learn more visit


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