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31 May 2014, 06:00
A man from Peterborough is trying to raise £11,000, so he can move a neglected tiger from a zoo in Greece, to San Diego.
David Barnes says he has visited Phevos the tiger in Greece several times a year, since 2001 - and they've built up a great relationship, "He'll let me stroke him and will let me feed him by hand.
"I used to sit with him for hours, just sitting, and talking to him.
"He allows me to stroke him, put my hand in. I can stroke his head, nose and chin.
"Since 1998 I have rescued over 90 animals, birds & reptiles from overseas mainly Greece and some chimps from France.
"Phevos was rescued from a circus and was put into a small enclosure with a tiny pool in Greece, but seemed happy and looked OK.
"I met with the Mayor of the town and they asked me if I would be an adviser to them and particularly the tigers. Over the years I built up a very good relationship with the municipality and they made many changes I suggested including building a new tiger enclosure that I had designed by the owner of Colchester zoo, Dominique Tropeano.
"The Greek crisis happened and straight away they seemed short of funds and the vet I had found for the zoo left! For health reasons I couldn't visit the tigers for almost 18 months.
"I have all the paperwork under way in both Greece and the USA and the transport schedule is arranged through Lufthansa. The cost will be about £11,000 but for me it is the only way I can be assured that his future will be much brighter.
"I will be travelling with him for the zoo and will be responsible for crating him which I am confident of doing without anaesthetic. I will also be able to check on him at the stops in Athens, Frankfurt and LA.
For any charity moving a big cat is a big operation but for me as an unfunded, one many band doing it in my spare time it really is massive and probably the most challenging projects I have undertaken. Dealing with Phevos is probably the easiest thing, it is the paperwork, co-ordinating everything, ensuring the crate is made to specific IATA standards and making sure that all concerned are in the right place at the right time - then of course there is the small matter of the funding."
Click here to visit David's fundraising website.