The Tiger Next Door
2009 1 x 90/60 Color: widescreen digital 16:9 English
A film by Camilla Calamandrei in association with Animal Planet
Selected for the 2008 HOT DOCS TDF Pitching Sessions
Based on figures from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, experts estimate that there are currently 7-10,000 tigers being kept by private individuals in the United States. Twenty-four of them live in Flat Rock, Indiana, in Dennis H’s backyard.
For the past fifteen years, keeping, breeding and selling tigers has been at once occupation, vocation and obsession for Dennis. But now, following a methamphetamine bust, he has lost the USDA license that allowed him to keep exotic animals, and the state of Indiana is threatening to shut him down. Dennis has just five days to find alternate homes for all but three of his brood and to bring his facilities up to code – or lose what he considers to be his life’s work. As he fights to hold on to his tigers over the days and months that follow, The Tiger Next Door follows Dennis – exploring his motives, his past, and the curious, ethically- murky world he’s created in his rural backyard. His saga is intercut with news reports about tiger accidents and exotic animal crimes occurring across the US – illuminating the connection between breeders like Dennis H, and the near-epidemic of private tiger-keeping in the United States.