New York is no place for a tiger – not for weretiger Sally Carter or for the white tiger she finds in a Harlem basement, guarding an enormous stash of heroin. Sally’s daring rescue of the tiger attracts journalist Dave Gardner, who sniffs a story and a lead to a drug baron he’s been trying to nail for years.
While Sally is determined that the white tiger will find a home in a sanctuary, Gardner follows a tenuous trail from the tiger back to the drug cache – and a whole lot of trouble. Soon Sally and her weretiger husband find themselves mixed up in a drug baron’s plot for revenge where even their amazing weretiger talents may not be enough to save Gardner – or themselves.
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This is a paranormal story in a modern setting, moving from New York to North Carolina. Action, adventure, weretigers – and, of course, tigers.
A bit of background
When I started writing Black Tiger, I had no idea that it was legal in the US to keep big cats in backyards, private zoos and the like. In Australia, animals like tigers are restricted to accredited zoos. Oh, you’ll find legends in country areas, locals who’ll tell you there’s a panther in the woods. They’ll say the cat is a descendant of animals brought to Australia by American servicemen in World War 2. Strange that all these cats seem to be black – and the only black big cats are strains of leopards and jaguars.
I was amazed to learn that the number of tigers in the US is something in the order of six thousand plus. Nobody knows for certain and some sources claim up to ten thousand. To put that into perspective, there are less than two and a half thousand tigers in India. Many, many of the tigers in the US are inadequately housed. People buy a cute little tiger cub and find they can’t afford to keep it, for a multitude of reasons. Feeding costs are huge. They need worming and flea control and regular checks, just like your domestic moggy. You can’t pop them in the car and take them to the local vet. You can’t take them to a boarding kennel if you want to go on holiday. You can’t stop them from marking their territory with their pungent, caustic urine, so they’re not great house pets. Many people buy these animals with nothing but good intentions – but in the end, it’s the cat that suffers.
Mind you, not all people buy these cats with the best of intentions. Trading in wildlife is big business. Many sources claim that wildlife trafficking is second only to drug trafficking. There is a high demand for tiger parts for traditional Chinese medicine – one reason why wild tiger populations are under threat. Breeding captive tigers to provide for the trade is an obvious extension. Certainly tigers and lions are bred for such ‘pastimes’ as canned hunts, where well-heeled shooters pay to kill their very own jungle beast under strictly controlled conditions where there is no danger to the hunter.
White Tiger contains a number of stories about rescued tigers. Those stories are all based on fact. Visit the websites for Big Cat Rescue (in Tampa, Florida) and Carolina Tiger and look through their files. The treatment of cubs in petting malls is also true. Big Cat Rescue exposes the practice here.
The white tiger himself, Ulysses, is an amalgam of a few different stories. One rescued tigress had been kept as a ‘guard cat’. White tigers are used for breeding because people like the striking white coat, despite the genetic faults that go with it. And a tiger was, indeed, found in a Harlem apartment. Here’s the story from the New York Times.
Accredited sanctuaries like BCR and Carolina Tiger exist throughout America. They survive on goodwill, volunteers and donations, and they also do their best to pressure their politicians to change the law so that big cats won’t need rescuing. Please consider making a donation, joining their supporter groups or pay the admission fee to go and visit. (I wish I could – but it’s a fair commute from Australia)
The Black Tiger? No, as far as I know there’s no such beast. But India does have a weretiger legend. If you haven’t read Black Tiger yet, the book will answer all your questions about Ash, Sally and the Black Tiger. You can find it here.