Want to know something about the Shambala preserve, any of the animals in particular or something more personal about Tippi Hedren, ask your questions here.

In this section Tippi will post stories and answer visitor questions. Send your email to asktippi@shambala.org and if your question is selected we will post the answer here. We are sorry but we are not able to answer all emails personally.

Dear Tippi,

I was wondering if you could tell me what kind of schooling you and your workers had to do to start your Sanctuary. What kind of things did you have to do first to get started?


Hello Danielle,

Good question, but a very involved one. By the time we became The Shambala Preserve, in 1983, under 501 3 (c) Roar Foundation. We had had eleven years of experience dealing with the rescued Exotic Feline.

It all came about because of the film, "ROAR". The film was made to join many environmental organizations in the late 60s and early 70s to create awareness about the plight of the animals in the wild, diminishing in numbers due to the encroachment civilization, sport hunting, and poaching, and the outrageous situation of exotic felines being bred in the U.S. to be sold as pets.

Our plan was to have Hollywood acting lions and tigers, etc., as our stars, and a nine month shooting schedule. Because of the instinctual dictates to fight a cat it didn't know, the trainers laughed at us saying this film couldn't be done. They didn't want their cats hurt and they did not want to be hurt. All of them suggested we acquire our own animals to do the film. That idea changed my life forever.

The first lion cub was a rescue. Soon we had seven little lions, then two young tigers, all of these animals born in captivity right here in the U.S. to be sold as pets. We became a very important rescue facility to California Fish and Game, and many other State Fish and Game Departments who confiscated these animals for various reasons. Some had no permits; some were living in horrible conditions, some, because the owners couldn't handle the animal, some because they had injured someone.

We learned as we went along with information and suggestions from animal trainers, expert zoological veterinarians, and federal, state, city, and county regulations. Dealing one on one with the lions and tigers taught us more than any book could do. There are very few books that give this kind of information and combine face to face with these predators might make you think quick what is the next chapter.

The cost of providing sanctuary to these Apex Predators is exorbitant. The amounts of meat consumed, is unbelievable; averaging 500 lbs. a day. The state regulations on size of compounds, basically, too small and the price of 9 gauge fencing constantly rising. This is a wonderful thought to begin a "sanctuary", but one needs to reserve on every level.

#1. City, county, state, and federal requirements to be permitted for these Apex Predators.

#2. Knowledge of the animals, their needs; food, habitat, are they loners, do they live in families (prides). What are the characteristics, their personality traits? Each species has different and unusual requirements.

#3. Do you have a veterinarian who can and will take care of these wild animals.

#4. Do you have a financial plan to cover emergencies?
A. Mother Nature can bring floods, fire, hurricanes, etc.
B. You rescue more animals than you can afford, Funding dries up, you can't put in any more money. Henceforth, you become part of the problem.

Please think long and hard about becoming a sanctuary! Maybe this is more than you wanted to know, and it's only the beginning.

Thank you for asking this very important question, Danielle.

Tippi Hedren

Ms. Hedron,

Is there a cat (lion, tiger, Leopard, etc.) that wakes up and roars sooner than another and if so, why??

I think what you do is wonderful. It makes you even a more beautiful woman. I saw your video on the Sea World incident and cannot agree more.

Best of luck to you.
Todd Lackner

Hi Todd,

Incidentally, my name is spelled "Hedren", and important tribute to each and every one on the planet to have our names spelled correctly.

Your question is a delight! Yes, we have several lions and lionesses who have very big voices. Over the period of years, since 1972, we have heard many dominate males who lead the chorus or they (the lions) will all listen to, join in the conversation, or make a remark at some point. Right now Leo leads the pride. Louis is a big contributor, too, as well as Zoe lioness, who is very vocal.

I believe the roaring sessions deal with dominance, it is always a conversation going from lackadaisical to very heated, from lying on their backs, to racing around discussing the issue at hand.

At all times it is a conversation; at all times it is thrilling!!!

Thanks Todd
With Love for the Animals,
Tippi Hedren

Dear Tippi,

Just saw your interview and tour of Shambala on Pets. TV. Very nice…thanks for sharing. How did you come up with the "Shambala", and what does it mean?


Hi Bob,

All of us are thrilled that you liked the tour of Shambala. It was provided by Steve Whitmire, who is the voice of Kermit the Frog, and has been on the Roar Foundation Advisory Board since the late 1980s.

The word "Shambala" comes from the ancient language, Sanskrit. The meaning is: A meeting place of peace and harmony for all beings, animal and human" I think it's perfect and I'm very grateful to the lady who suggested it to me, after the founding of "The Roar Foundation" came to fruition.

Thank you Bob,
With Love or the Wild Ones
Tippi Hedren

Hey Tippi, where did you film the movie "The Birds? " Was it Los Angeles?
Corey Valencia

Hello Corey,

The film, "The Birds" which has a life of its own, was filmed on location in the actual Bodega Bay, California. We did all of the exteriors there, many of the birds were trained there by the masterful trainer, the late Ray Berwick. Then we moved to Universal City where the film was completed.

It was an historic film in which to be involved and I am fortunate to be involved as my first film.

Thank you Corey,
With Love for the Movies,
Tippi Hedren

I'm very interested in writing a letter to my congressman about not allowing breeding of exotic animals in the U.S. After reflecting on the day (that I visited), I have a quick question. The tigers in your park are in very small cages. Isn't there a way to try to rehabilitate them back into their natural habitat? The amount of money spent on their food will, at one point equal or even exceed the amount you need to rehabilitate them and fly them back to Asia, etc.

I know you have a lot of rescues but the cages seem so very small for them to stay until the end of their lives. Have you thought about putting them in some kind of Safari style habitat (like San Diego Safari Tour) which is a lot bigger and is there even a way to make it safe enough?

I truly am happy that you work so hard to get bills through that protect these wonderful animals. There need to be more people like you in the world! Thank you for an unforgettable day at Shambala.

Silke Fernald

Hello Silke,

Thank you for writing. Your questions are many, I will try to be brief, but I am not good at that.

1. I hope you will contact your congressman and senators about the bill I have co-authored, "A Federal Ban on Breeding the Exotic Feline for Personal Possession and/or Financial Gain" sponsored by Congressman Buck McKeon, and Congressman Ed Perlmutter. The bill is at a standstill at this time because of congress being very busy and a problem with "the circus" banning the breeding.

2. I'm wondering if you visited the right place in your question about the "tigers being in very small cages". Shambala is known for the large expanses in which our animals live! Yes, we have holding areas where they are fed and while the habitats are cleaned or checked by veterinarians, but that's for no more than 45 minutes and then they are back in their habitats. Some of our guests complain they cannot find the animal at times because the enclosures are so large. They are not in cages at The Shambala Preserve.

3. Can they be rehabilitated to their indigenous areas?

A. No. Basically for two reasons - they have not had a mom to teach and train them to live in the wild. The lioness spends several years teaching the cubs how to hunt, protect the pride and the perils of living in the "neighborhood"

B. The fact they have made a relationship with humans, good or bad, puts them in immediate harm as well as the human who may come in contact with this animal. It wouldn't last any length of time. No human would take the chance of this animal being "tame", and there is no such animal in the Apex Predator species.

C. Unfortunately, the breeders of the tigers mix the races because they don't care as long as they get the cubs to sell. The zoos call them mutts. I am trying to stop the problem with the bills on which I am working in Washington, D.C. Meanwhile, because they are born in captivity, and in point of fact, there is nothing we can give a wild animal in captivity that they need, we at Shambala give these animals the best in life we can. They are moved to different habitats throughout the years, they are given the best diets, best housing, best human care and the best veterinary care.

You are the first person who ever accused us of placing the big cats in small cages. All of the government agencies applaud us, as well as animal organizations for our large habitats. Believe me; I am trying to find the solution to stop the insanity of the exotic feline being born in the U.S. for personal possession.

Thank you for writing - come back to see us to look again.

With love for the Wild Ones,
Tippi Hedren

Hi, my name is Megan Azevedo. I am 16 years old and have been in love with big cats all of my life. Today, February 21st, I came across your preserve my father and mother. We pulled over and were looking at some of the cats from the fence line, and listening to the lions communicate; as we did this my father told me that my grandfather watched one of your lion cubs when you guys had to go out of state to rescue a tiger. I don't know if you remember him, his name was Tom. Anyway, I thought that was really cool and wanted to see if you guys ever did any volunteer work. I know I am not 18, but I would love to help out. I asked one of your workers some questions; he was very nice and told me that if I had any questions I would like to ask you that I could email the question to you. I would greatly appreciate it if I was able to help out; like I said, I love all big cats (especially tigers) and one day hope to work with them to better their lives like (you) do. I admire you greatly for what you have done to help out these magnificent animals. Please reply and if you can, keep me informed about the cats. I would love to hear what you have to say about them.

Thank you very much,

Hi Megan,

I am very happy to hear from you. It is always encouraging to know young people care about animals and are interested in the plight of them, domestic and wild. The fact that you want to help is vitally important to the survival of the animals due to encroaching civilization taking their lands, sport hunting which has no valid reason to exist in this day of enlightenment about the intelligence of these animals of all species and their places on this planet.

Megan, I will suggest that you contact us next year when school starts. Our "Partners In Education" Program is in session on Tuesdays, by reservation only, during the school year and your teacher can bring your class to Shambala to learn about the exotic feline. We do not do school tours in the summer because it gets so hot, the animals are all doing what they do best; lying under a tree or in their den boxes asleep. "Only mad dogs and Englishmen stay out in the noonday sun"

I will look forward to meeting you in the fall during one of the school education tours. Then when you are 18 (it will be here before you know it) you can become a volunteer! There are many levels of volunteering and you will find your niche, with the help of our volunteer coordinators, Janice Payne, Chris Link, and Tina Ward.

Please check our website to find out what is going on at Shambala - www.shambala.org that's the best way to stay in touch.

Thank you for writing to me - see you in the fall.

With love for the Wild Ones,
Tippi Hedren

Photos by  Bill Dow  2019 The Roar Foundation
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The Roar Foundation is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization.
Shambala is a member of the American Sanctuary Association.