By MIKE FERGUSON
Of the Baker City Herald
A pair of big cats made their way into Baker City over the weekend, but nobody notified the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.
They were properly caged and not bothering anybody in particular. In fact, the colorful felines drew a crowd of curious onlookers when they made an impromptu public appearance Saturday afternoon in the parking lot shared by Safeway and Rite-Aid.
Owing to sometimes treacherous road conditions brought on by Friday nights snowfall, two Siberian tigers on their way from the Los Vegas area to their new home near Chehalis, Wash., spent Friday night and part of Saturday in Baker City. The tigers named Sampson and Delilah in hopes that they will soon produce a powerful and yet comely offspring drew a crowd as their owners, Paul and Annette Mason, were inside the grocery store negotiating with Safeway butchers for the delivery of sufficient chickens and turkeys.
Paul Mason emerged from the store grinning like well, a Chesire cat.
They gave us an excellent deal, he said. When youre feeding two large tigers, thats pretty important.
The tigers are approaching their fifth and fourth birthdays. Mason raised each of them since they were just a few weeks old. In fact, Sampson lived indoors for the first year of his life until he reached 300 pounds and had to move outside.
Annette Mason said the tigers are gentle and will kiss people that they know well.
Theyre very trainable, she said. They both had constant interaction with humans when they were babies.
But as the tigers would raise their tails at on-lookers, she would caution the crowd to back up.
Theyre getting ready to spray, she said. And you dont want to get caught in that.
The tigers were snug for their journey in a 46-foot caged trailer complete with a small wooden den just big enough for the two of them.
Ive just always wanted to own big cats, Paul Mason said. They seemed a little nervous when we first set out, but they calmed down real fast.
The couple and their felines spent Friday night at a Baker City motel. The Masons and their cats are destined for a 10-acre farm near Chehalis owned by a friend of the Masons.