TAMPA (FOX 13) - Tampa's Big Cat Rescue welcomed its newest member, a male tiger rescued from a Peruvian circus.
According to the group that rescued him, the tiger was kept in deplorable conditions as part of a traveling circus act.
His rescue and removal from Peru was years in the making.
"Hoover's story is one of the saddest stories of the whole rescue because originally that circus had 12 tigers and he's the only survivor," Jan creamer with Animal Defenders International said.
In 2011, Peru banned the use of wild animals in circuses, but instead of turning their tigers over to rescuers, Hoover’s owners went into hiding.
Animal defenders international, a group that's rescued more than 100 wild animals worldwide, spent eight months tracking down Hoover’s owners.
When they finally caught up to them, Hoover was alive but in very bad shape.
"He was very thin and very sick. he was full of parasites, he had some severe parasite infections,” Creamer explained.
In ADI's care, Hoover slowly recovered, putting on nearly 50 pounds in the last year while his rescuers worked to find him a permanent home.
When they visited big cat rescue in Tampa, they knew they'd found the perfect place for Hoover.
"When you see his enclosure here it says it all. This is heaven for him. this is an animal who, before he came to us, had never walked on grass," Creamer said.
Now, Hoover has acres of his own grass, trees and brush to explore. He's even seeing a pond for the first time in his life.
Big cat rescue does offer daily tours for the public to learn about their rescued animals, however they say Hoover will need to be quarantined for about a month before he's ready for his public debut.