Michael Jackson's Tiger, Thriller, Dies of Lung Cancer
The 13-Year-Old Tiger Once Lived With Jackson at Neverland Ranch
Thriller, a 13-year-old tiger who once lived with his owner -- Michael Jackson -- at Neverland Ranch, died of lung cancer earlier this month.
The 375-pound tiger, who was born -- along with a brother named Sabu -- in 1998, lived with the late pop star at Neverland until 2006, the Associated Press reports.
When Jackson moved out of Neverland, his pets' vet asked actress Tippi Hedren to take Thriller and Sabu to live at her Shambala Preserve in Acton, California, about 50 miles north of Los Angeles.
Hedren built a $79,000 habitat next to a lake and trees at Shambala to house Thriller (who was born after Jackson was photographed with the tiger at left for his Thriller album photo session) and Sabu, and that's where Thriller lived until his June 11 death. Sabu is left along in the habitat, and Hedren said he will likely remain there without a new roommate.
"Thriller was a real piece of work, one gutsy girl," Hedren said. "She ruled Sabu's life. It was humorous to watch the whole relationship. She did things to him that male tigers would normally never allow. She would steal food from him. That's unheard of. She ruled the roost, was very independent and tough."
Hedren, whose animal preserve requires $75,000 per month in donations to continue operating, also shared that Jackson, who died in 2009, did not keep in contact with her about his former pets, and never donated money for their care.
The Golden Globe-winning star of Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds said her staff once sent a package of photos of the tigers, along with t-shirts and other goodies, to Jackson's children, but "we never heard a word back," Hedren says. "I just think it's odd."