The tiger that once lived at Michael Jackson’s Neverland ranch died of lung cancer at Tippi Hedren’s wildlife preserve in California, at the age of 13.
The 13-year-old, 375-pound tiger died June 11, Hedren said Wednesday. A necropsy was performed and the tiger was cremated. Staff workers will hold a private service when the ashes are buried in a section of the preserve set aside for animals that die there.
Thriller and her brother Sabu were born on Nov. 20, 1998, and lived with Jackson until May 4, 2006, Hedren said.
When Jackson left Neverland for good, his veterinarian asked Hedren to take the cats at her Shambala Preserve in Acton, about 50 miles north of Los Angeles.
Other Neverland animals, including giraffes, flamingos, orangutans, elephants and dozens of reptiles, were sent to other sanctuaries in other parts of the country.
Shambala didn’t have a lot of room, but Hedren built a $79,000 habitat next to the preserve’s lake and there were trees and a hill and Thriller had a great life with Sabu, she said.
“Thriller was a real piece of work, one gutsy girl. She ruled Sabu’s life. It was humorous to watch the whole relationship. She did things to him that male tigers would normally never allow. She would steal food from him. That’s unheard of. She ruled the roost, was very independent and tough,” Hedren said.
Unlike many of the animals at the preserve, Thriller and Sabu arrived at the compound in excellent health physically and emotionally, Hedren said.
Because Thriller was a famous tiger, she was very popular with visitors and media, Hedren said. “She didn’t care. She was not a diva and didn’t mug for the camera. We all loved her for it.”