Cats, especially big cats, don't always get along famously with each other. Lions and tigers are two species you won’t typically see sitting cordially together, and that's exactly what makes Cameron and Zabu such an extraordinary couple.
Cameron is a male African lion and Zabu is a female white tiger. The pair grew up together in a roadside Zoo in New England, where their owners intended to use them to breed "ligers."
As the name suggests, ligers are hybrids of tigers and lions that are not found naturally in the wild. As a result, these animals suffer from a myriad of birth defects. Considering that ligers are completely non-essential to any conservation plans, they should never be bred.
White tigers like Zabu also are largely bred by greedy tourist attractions. They wouldn't survive in the wild, because their fur would make it impossible to hide while hunting in the jungle.
Thankfully, Big Cat Rescue liberated the pair from their grim fates and brought them to their sanctuary in Tampa, Florida in 2004. The workers found that Cameron was dangerously underweight by 200 pounds due to starvation, while Zabu was downright filthy.
Taking in Cameron and Zabu was about more than just saving their lives - it was about saving their relationship.
"Because Cameron's behaviors were testosterone-driven, we had only two choices; separate him from Zabu forever or neuter him," BCR writes. "The decision was easy."
BCR always makes an effort to keep cats that were rescued together close to each other. While the vasectomy caused Cameron to eventually lose his majestic mane, it was more than worth it to remain by his long-time love’s side.
"While Cameron tries to sleep most of the day away (as lions do in the wild), Zabu is extremely energetic and is always pestering him to play," BCR writes.
Upbeat and thriving, the couple have become popular residents amongst BCR workers and guests alike. Their presence is a joy to behold, and also serves as an important reminder of the plight that many big cats face around the world.
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