Exotic animals seized from homes more common than you may think

SCOTTSDALE, AZ - Two tiger cubs are settling into their new home at Out of Africa after wildlife officials found them being kept in Valley backyards as pets.

Arizona Game and Fish officials transferred the cubs to the wildlife park in Camp Verde on Tuesday.


But before they ended up there, they went to the Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center to get checked out.

The non-profit center rehabilitates many exotic animals rescued form people's homes and injured animals from the wild.

It houses leopards, mountain lions and bobcats that all came from people's homes.

This is where they come for a second chance. Founder and executive director Linda Searles says some people take their fascination with wild animals too far.

"They think, it would just be so cool to have a mountain lion on the couch. Yeah, it's not, it's not. It's dangerous. It's not fair to the animal, and it's not fair to your neighbors," Searles said.

There are usually 250-300 animals here at a time. And just recently, they had two special visitors-- the tiger cubs.

"I was expecting a very quiet New Year's Eve, and we ended up unloading a tiger that night," Searles said.

The tiger cubs, both from the same litter, were held in two different Valley backyards.

They were reunited under her watch.

"We just kind of introduced them slowly, and it was very cute. They just went up to each other and started to tuff and rub on each other. And they just were so happy to be back together," Searles said.

After captivity, many animals can't go back into the wild because they're socialized to humans. They're often defanged and declawed.

But at the Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center, they're loved and cared for.

"We give them a home for life. Those that can't be placed, we keep them and give them a home for life," Searles said.

Searles says federal laws against breeding exotic animals need to be strengthened, so people will stop trying to keep them as pets.

She says you can find tigers and lions for sale in just minutes online.

If you'd like to see some of these rescued animals yourself, and other wild animals, you can call to set up a tour at their Scottsdale facility.

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