It's been a vision for years to put a zoo in Mackenzie Park. Now, that dream could be closer than ever. The first exhibit could open in a mere 18 months if everything goes as planned. That exhibit would feature Holly the Asian Bengal Tiger. She was officially donated to the zoo on Monday morning.
She's certainly not a native Texan, but she's definitely right at home here. "She's been a part of me for 13 years," says Gene Light. Light has raised this Asian Bengal Tiger at his home in south Lubbock County since she was born. But now, he's letting his little girl go. "I wouldn't let her go anywhere. This is a real good home."
Holly the tiger is being donated to the Lubbock Zoo via the Amarillo Zoo. She'll call the Amarillo Zoo home for a few years until Lubbock's Zoo gets off the ground.
"This is a love effort. To put her in a place where she can get constant attention and care," says Lubbock Zoologist Meredith Wideman.
But moving the 350 pound cat is no easy task. "See if I can keep it from squirting' all over me this time." Veterinarian Dr. Gary Schwede and wildlife enthusiast Richard Whitenberg must sedate Holly first. And one tranquilizer would prove to be too little dosage for this prince of the jungle.
Then, with no less than a half dozen men, Holly is hauled to the trailer for her immunizations, vaccinations, tick treatment and transport to the zoo. "We think it's gonna be great for Lubbock and our effort to get a zoo here," says Lubbock Zoo Vice President Kai Hill.
Holly's Amarillo Zoo exhibit opens to the public Tuesday morning. Meantime, the Lubbock Zoo organization is ready to hire a zoo consulting firm later this month. City Bank has offered to pay for the Holly exhibit at Lubbock's Zoo. Ground breaking for that exhibit could begin as early as next year.