Salem, and an older female he lived with, Mystery, came to us from Van, Texas, along with eleven other cats.

The Van cats came in three separate groups. The three cougars arrived January 14th, seven of the tigers arrived February 4th, and the remaining three tigers came home February 5th, 2014. All thirteen cats were re-homed as part of an agreement between In-Sync Exotics and the Caruth C Byrd Wildlife Foundation, which were re-homing their carnivores.

The Van cats ranged in ages three to eighteen, and some were more human imprinted than others. Their former home was bare concrete, with no bedding, and no toys of any kind.

Salem - Tiger
salem and mystery

When Salem first arrived, he spent most of his time in the den, reluctant to come out and explore his surroundings. Slowly, he learned to trust us and is now a sweet, if a bit reserved, boy. Although he trusts us, Salem is one of our few tigers that reserves his chuffs for other tigers. This is not to say we do not constantly try to get him to chuff at us, even to this date. He does let us know he loves us in his own way.

Salem loves to lie belly-up on his den top and take long naps, put his large blue barrels into his tub, and steal toys or large enrichment off of the playground that he shares with other cats and stash them in his den. There have been many mornings where the evidence of his attempted theft is blocking the opening to his and Mystery’s den.

Before her passing in September 2022, it was obvious that Mystery and Salem shared a close bond. They spent most nights together in the den snuggling. Towards the end of her life, Salem would stay by her side day and night making sure she got her meds or ate her food. He demonstrated his love for her every day. That is not to say they didn’t get on each other’s nerves, but most of their conflicts passed quickly because Salem chose to let it go, even when she was wrong. After Mystery passed, Salem let us know that he missed her very much. Much like humans, animals also go through grief. In order to help Salem through his grief, the keepers, staff, and volunteers spend extra time with Salem, assuring him that though Mystery is gone, we still love him and will always be here for him.

When he isn’t stealing toys from the playground or lounging on the waterfall on his playground, you may see Salem playing with the large ball in his pool and yelling at it as it floats away from him. He also thoroughly enjoys making all his enclosure mates jealous when he is out on the playground, especially as the local thief!

salem walking in the grass
salem coming down from pool

Species: Siberian Tiger
(Panthera tigris tigris)

Sex: Male
Born: June 4, 2009
Rescued: February 4, 2014

salem next to a cardboard
salem playing with a pumpkin