Michael Jackson‘s tiger, Thriller, has died at a California wildlife preserve at the age of 13. The female Bengal tiger passed away from lung cancer on June 11, but the announcement of the creature’s death was only made Wednesday.
Thriller’s passing was confirmed by actress Tippi Hedren, who now runs the preserve where the tiger had been housed since Jackson died three years ago.
Thriller, named after the entertainer’s record-breaking album, stayed with Jackson at his Neverland Ranch until 2006. When the star left Neverland that year, numerous animals, including giraffes, flamingos, orangutans and elephants, were rehoused.
Thriller was moved to Hedren’s Shambala Preserve in Acton, California. There, she enjoyed a relaxing final few years in a multi-acre enclosure with her twin brother, Sabu, who is still alive and well at the preserve. Hedren revealed:
“Thriller was a real piece of work, one gutsy girl. She ruled Sabu’s life. It was humorous to watch the whole relationship. She did things to him that male tigers would normally never allow. She would steal food from him. That’s unheard of. She ruled the roost, was very independent and tough.”
The 82-year-old actress said Thriller was “the queen” of the preserve, and added, “We were fascinated by her dominance.” She also told the Los Angeles Times that Jackson seemed disinterested in the tigers towards the end of his life:
“It always amazed me that Michael never called to see how they were and never made any provisions for them financially. It would have been very helpful to have had some sort of financial donation.”
Thriller’s death came just two days after the third anniversary of Jackson’s passing at the age of 50. The pop music legend died after suffering a cardiac arrest on June 25, 2009.