WARSAW (Reuters) - Five tigers that were trapped "in horrific circumstances" in a truck on the Polish-Belarussian border in October arrived at an animal shelter in the Spanish city of Villena on Monday, ending an ordeal that had alarmed animal lovers, the shelter said.
“If you know what these animals have had to endure, in those far-too-small cages and crates, without good food and water, you would prefer to never transport them again. But we had to," said AAP Animal Advocacy and Protection Managing Director David van Gennep, who supervised the transport from Poznan to Primadomus in Villena.
"These animals went through hell... we have to make sure that they fully recover," he said.
After having traveled some 2,000 kilometres en route from Rome to a Russian circus, the tigers were stranded on the horse truck for days "in horrific circumstances" after being denied entry to Belarus, AAP said. They were subsequently treated and cared for at Poznan zoo in western Poland.
One of the ten tigers originally transported in the lorry died, while the other nine went to the zoo. The four remaining tigers will stay in Polish zoos, AAP, an international animal welfare group, said in a statement.
Poznan zoo will keep a pair of tigers called Gogh and Kan, who seem to know each other, AAP said. Gogh was unable to travel as he had suffered serious health problems as a result of being fed "incorrect food" while being transported.
Originally bound for Dagestan in southern Russia, van Gennep said the tigers probably would have died if they had reached their destination.
"Probably they would have been used for traditional medicines, Chinese medicines," he said.
(Reporting by Lewis Macdonald, writing by Alan Charlish; Editing by Bernadette Baum)