Tippi Hedren's Shambala Preserve Not Evacuated Because of Santa Clarita Fire

Contrary to widespread media reports, the legendary Hitchcock blonde and her animals are still at the Acton, Calif., facility that the 86-year-old has called home for 40 years.
Frank W. Ockenfels
Lily Tomlin (left) and Tippi Hedren at the Shambala Preserve in Acton, Calif.

Contrary to widespread reports, the massive Santa Clarita Valley Sand Fire, which has scorched 33,000 acres and threatens more, has not forced an evacuation of Tippi Hedren's 72-acre Shambala Preserve, a big cat sanctuary in Acton, Calif., that the legendary Hitchcock blonde has operated for decades.

On Sunday, photos and video showed the fire was extremely close to the Shambala property, and reports indicated that the 86-year-old star of 1963's The Birds was packing up the animals and planning to seek a safe haven elsewhere — information subsequently tweeted by Hedren's daughter, actress Melanie Griffith.

But on Monday, Hedren's publicist Harlan Boll told The Hollywood Reporter that Hedren was notified by firemen that it was, in fact, not yet necessary for her or the animals to leave the sanctuary, and so they have remained on the premises, prepared to evacuate if they are told it's necessary.

Hedren first encountered a pride of lions in 1969 while working in Africa on the movie Satan's Harvest and has been smitten with big cats ever since. She, her then-husband Noel Marshall and Griffith made a film, 1981's Roar, to increase awareness of the endangered species. Hedren began living in a cottage on the property that is now Shambala in 1976 and grew to love its inhabitants "more than my next breath," she told THR in 2013.

In 1983, she established the nonprofit Roar Foundation, and Shambala has been a center for big-cat care and research ever since, protecting animals that never could be returned to the wild, and subsisting on gifts from private donors like herself. Hedren — who runs Shambala with longtime associate Chris Gallucci and with help from volunteers like her friend Lily Tomlin — doesn't take a salary for her efforts.