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Arts and Entertainment

Thriller's Gone: Michael Jackson's Tiger Dies of Lung Cancer

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Just days after the world marked the third anniversary of the death of pop icon Michael Jackson comes news that a Bengal tiger that was once part of the star's menagerie has died.Thriller, a 13-year-old female, died June 11 of lung cancer at the Shambala Preserve, a wildlife care center in Acton, California, run by actress Tippi Hedren, reports L.A. Now.

The tiger had lived with Jackson at his Neverland Ranch in Santa Barbara until 2006, when Jackson's veterinarian asked Shambala to take the animal. Thriller's brother, Sabu, remains at the preserve and is in "very good health," says Hedren.

Curiously, once Thriller and Sabu were moved to Shambala, Hedren says Jackson had no contact with her to check on the tigers, and did not provide for them financially. The Preserve built a habitat for the tigers, who were very popular with visitors to the facility, but the Jackson family remained distant. The Associated Press notes:

A year after the tigers arrived, Hedren said staff sent a package of photos of Sabu and Thriller and T-shirts and other memorabilia to Jackson's children, "but we never heard a word back. I just think it's odd."
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Last year, the red jacket worn by Jackson in his famous "Thriller" music video was sold at auction to a Texas man who used the garment to raise funds that have been in part donated to Shambala Preserve to support the care for Thriller and Sabu.

This video from a visitor to Shambala shows Thriller doing the Moonwalk: