THEY spent the first years of their lives being forced to perform in a Spanish travelling circus.

Now, however, five magnificent tigers are getting used to their new permanent home at the IW Zoo.

The three female and two male tigers, Natasha, Zoppa, Antonella, Girona and Mondo, aged between four and 15 years old, are now enjoying the sanctuary and care provided by the zoo after being given up by the circus amid the growing public backlash around performing animals.

Originally taken in by Animal Advocacy and Protection (AAP) which quarantines and rehabilitates circus animals, the five tigers spent time recovering at AAP's Spanish centre.

They finally became well enough to make a 1,300 mile journey by road, Eurotunnel and ferry to reach their forever home on the Island.

As part of the Wildheart Trust, the IW Zoo provides the accommodation and care element of the charity's work with big cats and exotic animals - supporting rescue projects and raising awareness of the plight of animals who become victims of the circus and pet trade.

Trust founder, Charlotte Corney, said: "We're so pleased to be providing this essential lifeline to these tigers. The conditions endured by circus animals can be horrific.

"Things you can't believe are still happening in this so-called enlightened age and while we continue to campaign and pursue and end to such cruelty, we know the animals we rescue will have a happy retirement."

The tigers were welcomed into their newly built facilities, partly paid for by an ongoing major fundraising campaign, by Charlotte and her partner, wildlife TV presenter Chris Packham.

Charlotte added: "Once we met the tigers, we had to get construction underway so they could find the forever home they needed as soon as possible. There's still a way to go with the fundraising to cover all the costs and support future rescue projects but we're confident our visitors and the wider public will be as generous in supporting the cause as they have always been.

"From children's pocket money donations to Spinnaker tower fundraising, people are showing a lot of love for our new arrivals."

Chris added: "It is really important this sends out some clear messages about animal welfare and how we take care of animals in the 21st Century."

Anyone concerned about the plight of the circus animals and wishing to help can donate at: