An orphaned, 5-month-old white tiger cub was near death by the time she was seized from an illegal owner in Louisiana. But thanks to Lions Tigers & Bears Big Cat and Exotic Animal Rescue in Alpine, California, this formerly abused cub has a new chance at life.

When the cub was first rescued, she was in dire shape. She would not eat, and was plagued with ringworm. Veterinarians had to administer immediate treatment.

“They didn’t know if she was going to live,” said Lions Tigers & Bears Founder and Director Bobbi Brink. “A couple of times they almost lost her.”

Compounding the effects of malnourishment and physical abuse by her captors, the cub was destined to be prone to illness simply due to careless breeding.

“White tigers already have a lot of issues in captivity because they’re not really a rare breed, they’re inbred to be white, so it causes a lot of health problems,” said Brink.

They may be cross-eyed, or have bone problems, she explained.

Thankfully, the cub pulled through. And while she will still require ongoing veterinary treatment, she is now in caring hands.

“She’ll get to live out her life now,” said Brink.

The sanctuary is now raising funds to build a new habitat for the cub (who has not yet been named). She will eventually rotate this habitat with the other tigers, as a form of enrichment. The sanctuary rotates habitats up to twice a week to ensure the tigers don’t get bored with their surroundings.

Sadly, many tigers and exotic animals are still suffering in abusive environments that fail to meet even their basic needs.  But we can all help stop the cruelty by steering clear of businesses that exploit the animals for their own gains.

“Please don’t do the photo ops,” implored Brink. “There isn’t one legitimate place in the country left doing the photo ops. And a lot of these breeders breed for nothing more than profit; as long as people pay, they’re going to continue to breed.”