The San Diego International Airport’s Terminal 2 at night. Photo courtesy airport authority

A tiger that had been living in “deplorable conditions” in Greece is scheduled to arrive at San Diego International Airport Thursday evening and be shipped to the Lions, Tigers & Bears sanctuary in Alpine, according to its founder.

Phevos, who was captive-bred, and six other tigers were seized from an Italian traveling circus group in 2002. He had been housed alone at the Trikala Zoo outside of Athens, since his female tiger companion died in March, according to LTB founder Bobbi Brink.

“This tiger has been living in deplorable conditions for years,” Brink said. “We were his last hope and finally he will get the care he needs.”

The female tiger, Athena, had an open wound on her paw that went untreated for months, ultimately leading to her death 15 months later, according to LTB.

The man who had helped place the tigers at the zoo in Greece more than a decade ago contacted LTB and said the conditions the felines were living in deteriorated as Greece’s economy spun downhill, according to Brink.

The nonprofit sanctuary in the foothills east of San Diego was in the spotlight a couple of years ago for taking in a bear named Meatball, who was captured during one of his occasional trips into residential neighborhoods near Los Angeles to forage for food.

According to LTB, it costs at least $10,000 a year to care for a tiger at the facility.

The organization is requesting donations. More information is available online at or by calling (619) 659-8078.

—City News Service

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