Michael Jackson's tiger, Thriller,
dies of lung cancer
Source: CBS News
(CBS/AP) Thriller, a tiger that belonged to Michael Jackson when the entertainer lived at his Neverland ranch, has died of lung cancer at actress-activist Tippi Hedren's wildlife preserve in California.
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.
Unlike many of the animals at the preserve, Thriller and Sabu arrived at the compound in excellent health physically and emotionally, Hedren said.
There are 15 tigers at the compound, but Sabu is now alone in the habitat he shared with Thriller and he'll probably stay that way, Hedren said.
Jackson, who died in 2009, often talked about his love of animals, but he never called to check on the tigers and he never sent any money to help pay for their care, Hedren said.
A year after the tigers arrived, Hedren said staff sent a package of photos of Sabu and Thriller and T-shirts and other memorabilia to Jackson's children, "but we never heard a word back. I just think it's odd."
In 2011, though, tigers received proceeds from the $1.8 million auction of Jackson's "Thriller" video jacket.
Monday marked three years since Jackson's death. Family members remembered him with messages on Twitter.