An uproar was caused online when a post which appeared on Maltese animal lovers Facebook page RUBS Puppy Love showed a photo of what appeared to be a tiger cub at the opening of a nightclub, Hugo’s Infinity.
The tiger cub is Tica, born a couple of months ago and already becoming somewhat of a Maltese celebrity on social media.
In less than 12 hours, the post gathered lots of traction, and hundreds of people had their say in the comments. While there were people who defended the act as probably a quick appearance, or a show of how the club might be pet-friendly as a new concept, many more condemned the actions, going so far as to call for a boycotting of the club and reporting the cub owner to the authorities.
The owner of the tiger, however, was quick to reply and clarify the whole situation on a live video he uploaded this morning. The man, Anton from L-Arka ta’ Noe, said that he was invited to the club by the owner himself, Hugo Chetcuti.
“Tica needs her bottle every four hours, so Hugo gave me a room where we can stay and I went down for a short while to see my friends. Obviously, as soon as people saw me with Tica, they took a photo of us.” Throughout the video, which was shot in the hotel room, Tica can be seen playing around, eventually falling asleep at his legs on the bed.
Tica’s mother rejected her 26 hours after she was born, and Anton takes care of animals like her and so many more (anything from zebras to monkeys) at L-Arka ta’ Noe. “Animals are my life and my energy, and I wish there could more opportunities like mine in Malta,” he said.
Anton regularly posts videos of Tica, who has become a star on Facebook and in real life. Thousands tune in to watch Anton play with the cub, train her, and give her her regular bottle, and the cub even makes a lot of appearances at the many charity events which Anton helps out at.
In a live video he had posted on 10th May, Anton also explained what his plans for his tigers are. “We’re going to be launching a test in 2018 to send them out to the wild again,” he said. “We’re going to try and chip them so that we have proper data tracking, we’ll send them to rehab, and then we try to send them out the wild again. It won’t be easy, but unless we find some stupid savage who actually shoots at them, that’s the plan.”
“With Tica, however, it’s just true love,” he said. “She’s staying with me. People love her, and she comes from a family of tigers bred in captivity. She wouldn’t be able to cope in the wild.” But with Anton, it seems, Tica has found her own little paradise.