Bella was born in 1996 and came to Big Cat Rescue in 2007. She was part of a tiger breeding operation in central Florida that was closed by the USDA after years of violations of the Animal Welfare Act and safety citations. A number of incidents including the death of a worker in 2001 and an attack on another employee in 1997 resulted in the killing of the tigers involved. The owner was held responsible for not providing proper enclosures, safety procedures and adequate training for his workers. Despite numerous escapes and attacks and a 2004 indictment for illegal wildlife trafficking, the facility was not shut down until 2006. It took another year to place the animals.
When Bella arrived at Big Cat Rescue in 2007 with three other tigers from the same facility (TJ, Modnic and Trucha), they were all a day away from being euthanized. Modnic and Trucha have since died from breast cancer, a common outcome for female tigers who are bred excessively for multiple litters a year. In the wild, a tiger will only have a litter of cubs every three years because it takes that long to raise them to independent maturity. In captivity, breeders will breed them to have three litters a year.
Bella was spayed shortly after her arrival so that she can live with TJ. They were a breeding pair at the facility which was widely known for its “throw-away tigers” because the cubs were so often lame, cross-eyed or otherwise impaired from the inbreeding that goes into producing white tigers.