If you go to the Rancho Las Lomas Resort and Zoological Garden Facebook page, you’ll see a banner photo of the Dalai Lama speaking there in July and, farther down, a post describing the holy man’s appearance as “surreal” and “a beautiful experience.” But you’ll have to hunt to find the single reader comment noting that the world’s most famous Tibetan Buddhist monk referred to Lily the White Bengal Tiger as “a prisoner” with “no freedom of movement” at the Silverado event venue.
It’s much easier to find comments like those on a different Facebook page, the one for “Lily Deserves a Better Life.” A group of folks known as “Lily’s Advocates” have joined the International Fund for Animals in calling for the tiger to be moved from the cage that has been her home for 10 years to the wide open spaces of the Wildcat Sanctuary in Minnesota, where former Rancho Las Lomas male tiger Tonka now resides.
“Lily is an intelligent, intuitive animal that has been given the chance to live under the open sky in a space 10 times bigger than her current enclosure surrounded by other tigers. All of this on The Wildcat Sanctuary’s dime,” claims Lily Advocate Lindsy Rudolph of Victorville.
“The owners refuse to give her up because it would be a ‘bad business decision’ and they need her to make money,” alleges Rudloph. “The wedding business is perfectly capable of making money without the animals on the property.”
She posted video of a portion of the Dalai Lama’s talk at Rancho Las Lomas, where he said humans’ very purpose in life is to be happy and joyful and that even animals and insects seek to be happy in their lives.
The Lily’s Advocate includes with the video a pitch for viewers to email the Dalai Lama on behalf of the tiger at oh***@da*******.com.
In the interest of full disclosure, OC Weekly held its 10th annual Decadence party at Rancho Las Lomas in September 2013. Officials there point out that white bengal tigers are endangered in the wild and that Lily seems quite healthy and happy at the Silverado educational sanctuary where an alpaca, zebras, servals and macaws also thrive.
OC Weekly Editor-in-Chief Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the alternative newsweekly’s first calendar editor.