Hoover is a 12-year-old male tiger who had spent most of his life performing at the Circo Africano in Peru. Recently, his fortunes took a change for the better.

In 2012, the government of Peru banned wild animal acts at circuses after an investigation uncovered lots of abuses. Hoover and his fellow tigers, for instance, had to perform dangerous tricks. They were also kept in cages much too small for them. When Hoover “joined” the circus, there had been 11 other tigers. Over the years, they eventually died, and he was left alone.

Enforcing the ban involved confiscating animals that were often large and dangerous, moving them to a holding facility, taking care of them, and finding them new permanent homes. As the Peruvian authorities did not have the experience or knowledge to do all of this, they asked the UK-based Animal Defenders International (ADI) for help.

The ADI began by investigating the six traveling circuses in Peru, including the Circo Africano. They needed to learn the circuses’ itineraries and what kinds of animals they kept. The first raids took place in August, 2014. It took the ADI months to fully enforce the ban, for the circuses had many hiding places in the mountains and forests of Peru.

Eventually, the ADI succeeded in rescuing Hoover and the other animals and relocated them to a rehabilitation facility. Hoover was malnourished and needed months of care. While they nursed him back to health, the ADI arranged to transfer him to the Big Cat Rescue Center in Florida. Hoover would have a large exclosure complete with a lake and lots of trees. He was transferred there on April 23, his birthday, and cautiously settled in. While exploring, he discovered the joys of swimming in the lake and drinking fresh water whenever he wanted.