TIGERS at The Isle of Wight Wildheart Sanctuary were delivered a giant ‘Tiger Tombola’ toy this week, installed by the British Royal Navy members.

Measuring 1.3 metres long and 1.4 metres in diameter, the Tombola was crafted by local carpentry expert, Alistair Nye, and took eight members of the British Royal Navy to install it for the tigers.

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Earlier this year, The Wildheart Sanctuary started a nationwide search on AirTasker for a skilled carpentry and DIY expert to design and create a toy that would stimulate the tigers’ senses and challenge them both physically and mentally.

The Tasker selected was Alastair Nye, 41, from Bembridge, and after seeing the post, Alistair pitched the idea of creating a large Tombola toy to be installed in the enclosure for three rescued tigers.

The octangle toy, made from plywood, is free spinning which allows the tigers to explore the compartments while it rotates.

Lawrence Bates, CEO of The Wildheart Sanctuary says: “The Wildheart Sanctuary is a special forever home for tigers, lions, lynx, lemurs, monkeys, meerkats and reptiles to flourish in a caring environment.

 “As part of our commitment, we partnered with Airtasker to find someone in the local community who could use their skills to create a toy that would keep our three tigers happy, fulfilled and stimulated - both physically and mentally.

 “We were impressed by how quickly we were connected with Alastair, and from his skilled craftsmanship to creative ideas - he certainly delivered!”

The toy has now been given to the Sanctuary’s three female tigers – Natasha, Zoppa, and Antonella – who came to The Wildheart Animal Sanctuary in 2018 having been rescued from a travelling circus in Spain by rescue partner, Animal Advocacy and Protection (AAP).

Natasha, aged 7, is the youngest and most vibrant of the females, both affectionate and curious and likes to think she’s the boss!

Zoppa, aged 9, is, in fact, lame on her left front leg (the word ‘Zoppa’ translates to ‘lame’ or ‘limping’ in Italian), and although her injury is a permanent disability, she has adapted to it and lives a very good life – she was the first one to play when the toy was brought out.

Antonella, aged 16, is the oldest of the tigers and is described as a “completely awe-inspiring individual”.

She is more introverted than her companions and is quite happy in her own company, often giving the impression of being rather aloof.

She can, however, be kitten-like and sociable too - when she does interact, she has a breath-taking presence.

Co-founder and CEO of Airtasker, Tim Fung, says: “It’s super exciting to see Alastair share his unique skills with the Wildheart Sanctuary to create something truly special that enriches the tigers’ lives.”