McCarthy Wildlife Sanctuary celebrating white 'tiger' Christmas - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, FL-news & weather

McCarthy Wildlife Sanctuary celebrating white 'tiger' Christmas

WEST PALM BEACH, FL (WFLX) - Mark McCarthy, the owner and operator of the McCarthy Wildlife Sanctuary is a busy man.

"We've got our hands full out here," he said. "We've got 24 big cats on our sanctuary."

Bishman, a white tiger cub, and Babu, a snow tiger cub, are their newest cats. They're just nine weeks old. "They're both brothers, even though the one is much lighter than the other one," explained McCarthy. "He's about 90 percent white."

"This one," he said, referring to the other white tiger, "is a handful here. He's very boisterous compared to his brother, far more outgoing than his brother."

The cubs were a gift from Preservation Station, a South Carolina wildlife center, just weeks after McCarthy's prized white tiger Sabi, suddenly died.

Blood test results showed she died from canine distemper. While the sanctuary's cats are inoculated for rabies and feline distemper, canine distemper has only recently started to be a concern. McCarthy now inoculates all their cats for it. "There are several zoos around the country that have had this problem," he said, "and have lost a huge part of their collection."

Preservation Station's gift has helped take away some of the pain of losing Sabi, McCarthy said. "They called us up and asked us if we wanted one white tiger," he added, "so I went up there to pick up one and then they told us to take two. So we got two white tigers."

Actually, they now have a total of four white tigers.

Just days earlier, the Zoological foundation in South Dade, overcrowded with too many animals, gave them two 14-month-old white tigers, plus a liger, part lion, part tiger.

They'll join the reptiles, birds and all kinds of creatures at the sanctuary that are mostly donated animals.

"They're not all what I would call rescues," said McCarthy. "Some are, but a lot of them are just people's pets they could no longer care for anymore and had to give them up."

McCarthy hopes the people who visit, like the Fisher family from New York City, who paid extra for the chance to play with Babu, will leave with a healthy appreciation for wildlife.

"He was climbing on us," said Russell Fisher.

"He was soft and furry," added his sister, Sydney.

"Hopefully, this is an experience they'll remember for the rest of their lives," said their father, Larry Fisher.

Between now and January 15, 2012, you can interact with the cubs yourself for a donation of $50 per person. The money will be used to help pay for the cubs' new enclosures. McCarthy said after mid-January the cubs will have grown too large.

You can learn more about the McCarthy Wildlife Sanctuary at www.mccarthyswildlife.com.

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