Film: 2009: Indianapolis International Film Festival: Summer 2009
The Tiger Next Door
Photo right: Max, who appears in The Tiger Next Door as a cub, now lives comfortably at EFRC. Courtesy of Joe Taft.
“Dennis Hill breeds and sells tigers from his backyard... Can he win his battle to keep his tigers? Do we want him to?” Thus the festival card for The Tiger Next Door promotes this feature documentary that had its U.S. premiere at the Indianapolis International Film Festival.
Filmmaker Camilla Calamandrei, who was at the screening, began this project over five years ago when she saw a news story concerning 24 tigers held privately in New Jersey. Upon further research, she discovered how widespread the problem was, with too many tigers living in appalling conditions.
Photo left: Director Camilla Calamandrei in the evidence room at US Fish and Wildlife office, Springfield, Illinois. Pelts, hides, skulls, and other body parts were confiscated during an undercover operation that identified men who were buying unwanted tiger pets and selling their body parts and meat on the black market. Photo by Diane Zander.
She further discovered that too many of those tigers end up needing sanctuary, and the few rescue centers that take them are already full, having to turn many away. In fact, some estimate there are more tigers in the U.S. than in the wild in their shrinking native habitats in India and Asia.
Photo left: Joe Taft, founder and director of the EFRC, has been rescuing big cats since 1991
One of the people involved with Dennis Hill and his tigers over the years is Joe Taft, founder and director of The Exotic Feline Rescue Center (EFRC), in Center Point, Indiana. He is interviewed in the film, expressing the opinion shared by the majority of the audience at the screening that breeding and selling tigers is irresponsible since so many end up living in atrocious conditions.
The Tiger Next Door premieres on Animal Planet March 25, 2010 and the DVD will be released April 20, 2010.
Don't Stand in line-