Big John and his companions, Barnum and Isabella, were confiscated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Brownsville, TX because of violations of the Endangered Species Act, the Lacey Act and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. They were part of the Spanish Circus that was on its way back to Spain. Isabella, Big John and Barnum were cramped in a small trailer along with ponies and camels and kept in deplorable conditions. The tigers were hot, underfed, thirsty and just about lost all will to live. They were transferred to a temporary home near Brownsville until IEAS stepped in to offer these helpless animals a second chance at a better life. IEAS worked non-stop to get a habitat constructed in order to get these tigers out of the conditions they were living in. With the help of the local community and other organizations, the money was raised and the habitat was constructed. These tigers who were once kept in a cramped, hot trailer, and to the point of no hope, now enjoy a 15,000 square foot habitat with perches to lie on, two running pools and trees for shade. They are now living the life they rightly deserved from the beginning. This was truly a fairy tale ending for all involved.
Big John was named by the Stemmons Foundation who generously donated the funds to help build his habitat. John is a very patient feline. He is especially patient with Isabella. One would have to be, with her constantly nipping at his heels every morning. However, he will let her know when he's had enough, and she will immediately quit. John is one of many animals at IEAS who has benefited from the Emotional Enrichment Program.