N.C. tigers set to go to Iraqi zoo

MEBANE, N.C. — To see Riley the tiger sunk to his whiskers in a 100-gallon tub, swishing his tail like an oversized kitten, you'd never guess he's shipping out to Iraq.

No jitters show on Hope's striped face as she lazes in a mud puddle nearby, even though she and her mate will soon be stars of the war-torn Baghdad Zoo.

These big cats, raised in captivity deep in the Caswell County woods, represent 500 pounds of fur-covered progress in a war that seldom brings good news.

The Baghdad Zoo barely survived the Iraq war's early days. Prized animals were looted or shot. An ostrich was fed to starving lions. An American soldier shot and killed a Bengal tiger that attacked a colleague trying to feed it through cage bars.

But now soldiers and Iraqis describe the zoo as the rare spot in Baghdad where you can forget about war.

Read the complete story at