Catherine Ross, Collin County Reporter
Documentary filmmakers working on "Tigers of Texas" put cameras in the playground of In-Sync Exotics' Tiger Country enclosure to capture the tigers in everyday life, but the tigers have reacted as if they have a new toy.
"Tiger's eye" cameras are giving the big cats at a Wylie wildlife sanctuary a voice.
Sixty big cats live at In-Sync Exotics near Lake Lavon.
"You can even hear them breathing and the noises they make," documentary filmmaker Barry Stevenson said. "It's a very interesting perspective."
Stevenson is making a documentary featuring the rescued tigers in Texas, animals living at sanctuaries such In-Sync Exotics.
Vicky Keahey, who operates the sanctuary, said she was skeptical when Stevenson approached her with the idea of placing tiny, high-definition cameras in the tigers' play area.
"I was pretty reluctant to do it," she said. "I thought, 'Oh man, they are so going to eat that camera."
However, after she saw the video, she was amazed by the tiger's eye view, she said.
The tigers interacted with Stevenson's cameras in a way that was beyond their imagination -- even knocking them over and carrying them around.
"One of the tigers ended up chewing on and carrying one of the cameras into his den," Stevenson said.
After uploading an edited video to his Vimeo account, Stevenson saw thousands of hits -- something he credits to the unique perspective.
"Most people only view tigers from the outside in -- like in a zoo or a sanctuary -- often looking through cages," he said.
Stevenson said he hopes to finish shooting his documentary by this summer.
Keahey rescued her first cougar in 1991. She added tigers in 1998 and established a nonprofit by 2000. Her nonprofit has rescued 100 animals.
"This is my life's heart," she said.
She said her animals arrive after being rescued from breeding operations or even from drug dealers who use the animals for protection.
Keahey said she is licensed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, has a permit from Collin County and is registered with the state of Texas. She is also accredited by the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries and the Animal Sanctuaries Association.