From her Hollywood debut in Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds, this former New York fashion model has accompanied her acting career with outstanding humanitarian services. Mother to actress Melanie Griffith, and her son-in-law is Puss in Boots (how appropriate) actor Antonio Banderas, Tippi Hedren, founder and president of The Roar Foundation provides a sanctuary for formerly famous felines. Upon completing work on the movie Satan’s Harvest, it was then that Hedren realized that after the cameras stopped rolling these big cats were sure to spend the remainder of their lives wasting away in cages. Hedren also learned of the growing trend of exotic cats being bred and sold as pets throughout the United States. She transformed eighty acres of desert land northeast of Los Angeles into a sanctuary for almost seventy big cats, including, Bengal & Siberian tigers, African lions, bobcats, and panthers. Animal Fair Media’s Wendy Diamond met with Hedren on the beautiful grounds of the Shambala Preserve.
WD: Tell us about this majestic sanctuary named Shambala.
TH: Shambala’s been around since `83. That’s when I formed the Roar Foundation, an hour outside of L.A. We, at one point, had 150 animals here. They were coming in not only as private citizens had them as pets, but excess zoo animals and circus animals. It was just amazing. Sometimes they would come in 12 at a time.
WD: Shambala is actually a sanctuary, but what constitutes a sanctuary as compared to a zoo?
TH: A sanctuary really is no breeding, no buying, no selling, no trading, no commercial use, outside the city limits, and adequate veterinary care, not all veterinarians can take care of these animals.
WD: You are such an amazing animal activist, what else are you doing in addition to the Shambala Preserve?
TH: My time is spent mostly trying to raise money to fund the beautiful animals that we give a home to. I was recently successful in getting a bill passed in 2003. It’s titled; The Captive Wildlife Safety Act. This law stops the interstate traffic of these animals which helps cut out the breeding and auctioning of the cats.
WD: You’ve produced such a great movie, Roar, about the big cats. Why have you specifically focused on big cats?
TH: Because this is our expertise. We chose the big cat because almost everyone is fascinated by them for one reason or another.
WD: You personally have five cats?
TH: Yes, five. Johny Saxon, Marlon Brando, Antonio Banderas, Rod Taylor and Rocky.
WD: Tell us about Michael Jackson’s two tigers.
TH: When Michael Jackson disbanded his private zoo, there was no contest about where the tigers should go. Thriller and Sabu came to live with us.
With her constant hard work and dedication, it’s obvious that Tippi Hedren truly roars when saving the lives of big cats.
For more information visit: www.shambala.org.