The Tiger Next Door, a Documentary about Captive Wild Animals, on Animal Planet March 25 / DVD April 20

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The Tiger Next Door tells the story of a man named Dennis Hill who houses 24 tigers, 3 bears, 6 leopards, and one cougar in his backyard in Indiana. The film follows Hill as he fights to hold on to his license from the Department of Natural Resources and raises the ethical and moral questions of keeping large wild animals captive.

Dennis Hill and one of his 24 captive tigers, as seen in THE TIGER NEXT DOOR

"Beautifully made… A seamless narrative that challenges thinking adults." - The Huffington Post "Fascinating... A great story told with intelligence, compassion and some amazing footage." - NOW Magazine "An affectionate profile, a damn

Animal Planet TV will broadcast the documentary The Tiger Next Door, on Thursday, March 25th, at 9pm EST/PST (8pm Central),which will be available on DVD from First Run Features beginning April 20th.

The Tiger Next Door tells the story of a man named Dennis Hill who has been breeding and selling tigers out of his backyard in Flat Rock, Indiana for over fifteen years. When the film begins Hill has 24 tigers, 3 bears, 6 leopards, and one cougar, and he faces an inspection by the local Department of Natural Resources that may shut him down for good. As Hill fights to hold on to his tigers over the days and months that follow, The Tiger Next Door follows him – exploring his motives, his past, and the curious, ethically-murky world he’s created in his backyard. The film also travels far beyond Hill's animal compound, introducing a shocking array of news stories about tiger situations gone wrong around the country, and revealing the alarming statistic that there are more tigers in private captivity in the U.S. than there are in the wild in the world.

All of which raises the question — What do we want our relationship with wild animals to be, as the wild disappears? Under what circumstances is it okay to keep large wild animals captive?

This film and the topic of wild animals in captivity are highly relevant and timely, in light of recent news stories about:

  • a trainer killed by a 12,300 lb whale at SeaWorld (Feb, 2010)
  • a man killed by his “pet” tiger in Ontario, Canada (Jan, 2010)
  • a woman killed by her “pet” bear in Pennsylvania (Oct, 2009)
  • the story from last winter (Feb 2009) of the Connecticut woman who was brutally mauled by her neighbor’s 200 pound “pet” chimpanzee,
  • and the story of the tiger escape and mauling of a teenager at the San Francisco Zoo (Dec 2007).

These are only the latest in a long list of problematic stories of captive bred wild animals gone “bad.” Incidents like these raise difficult ethical questions and important sociological issues for people and animals that are addressed in The Tiger Next Door.

I would like to offer you a chance to see the film, use footage attained through 6 years of research, and perhaps interview the filmmaker and some of those who have worked closely on this issue. See below for details.

Please do be in touch to express your interest and receive a screening copy.

Cordially yours,

Kelly Hargraves
Publicity, First Run Features
323-662-1930

Interview Opportunities

Camilla Calamandrei, Director & Producer
Award winning documentary filmmaker and interactive producer Calamandrei began her journey into the world of American captive bred tigers in 2003—when a long time tiger owner in the New York area (the “tiger lady” Joan Byron Marasek) was forced to surrender 24 tigers, found to be living in unsafe, inhumane conditions. Following those tigers to their new home in Texas led the filmmaker to a myriad of other captive bred tiger stories around the country. Camilla has previously produced and directed two other independent documentaries about uniquely American stories that were broadcast on PBS and abroad. The historical documentary Prisoners in Paradise was voted Best of Festival at the Rhode Island Film Festival in 2001, and the short subject documentary about ballroom dancing At Arm’s Length premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 1990. In addition to making documentary films, Camilla has worked as live action director/producer for The Jim Henson Company, and as a producer of interactive media for Scholastic and LEGO.

Special Agent Tim Santel, U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife
Agent Santel is the resident agent in charge of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's law enforcement office in Springfield, Illinois. He leads teams of agents that investigate illegal trade in exotic and endangered species (alive or dead), from big cats to tiny beetles and butterflies. In 2004, Santel was named the North American Wildlife Enforcement Officers Association (NAWEOA) Officer of the Year because of his work on an investigation called “Operation Snowplow.” “Operation Snowplow” was an undercover investigation that ultimately identified a ring of men traveling through the Midwest collecting unwanted tiger pets (and other big cats) and slaughtering them for their meat, their hide, their bone and other body parts. The investigation lasted several years, covered more than six states and resulted in the conviction of 17 defendants (16 individuals and one business) charged with violating several federal wildlife protection laws.

Tippi Hedren
The Hollywood actress famous for her role in Hitchock's The Birds is the owner and director of Shambala Preserve. Hedren established the exotic feline preserve in 1983. Shambala is home to 65-70 tigers, lions, leopards and other exotic cats that were once owned by individuals but ultimately confiscated by authorities due to inhumane living conditions. The Humane Society of the United States will honor Ms. Hedren with a lifetime achievement award on March 24, 2010.

"Beautifully made… A seamless narrative that challenges thinking adults." - The Huffington Post

"Fascinating... A great story told with intelligence, compassion and some amazing footage."

  • NOW Magazine

"An affectionate profile, a damning exposé, and an urgent missive about the dire status of these magnificent animals." - Eye Weekly

"A must-see for animal rights activists and anyone else interested in the conservation of our planet and its inhabitants." - Flare Magazine

"A gripping moral tale that deserves the largest possible viewer-ship, because of what it teaches us about being a tiger, and what it teaches us about being a human being."

  • Tom Regan, author of The Case for Animal Rights

More info, press kit and photos available at http://www.TheTigerNextDoor.com http://www.thetigernextdoor.com

Contact: Kelly Hargraves
Phone: 1-323-662-1930

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