Tuesday, December 31, 2002

2000-2002 Big Cat Attacks

The Associated Press
March 20, 2002
Reno man give 12 days to move exotic cats

A judge has given a Reno man until April 1 to move four Siberian tigers and black leopard out of a temporary shelter in Lemmon Valley.

Peter Renzo pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor charge of keeping the large felines without an exotic animal permit.

Renzo brought the cats to northern Nevada in December after being given three days to remove the animals from their home in Grass Valley, Calif. He first tried keeping them in a Sparks warehouse, but city officials kicked him out for failing to obtain an exotic animal permit.

Renzo also pleaded no contest to that charge.

After moving the cats to Lemmon Valley, Renzo was cited for the same offense, this time under county jurisdiction.

Last week, Washoe County commissioners voted to issue Renzo an exotic animal permit if he built a facility that complied with county regulations.

But commissioners also told him to remove the animals from the county until the building was complete.

During a hearing Tuesday, Renzo's attorney Kevin Karp told Justice of the Peace Harold Albright Karp that he's filed a motion challenging the last provision of the county's order.

Karp asked the judge to give Renzo 30 days to move the cats and allow the courts time to hear his pending motion.

The judge refused.

"It doesn't seem to me you're paying proper attention to things," Albright told Renzo. "The cats have to be removed by April 1, that gives you two weekends. You just got to do it."

Deputy District Attorney Chris Wilson called the animals "inherently dangerous."

He said they pose a significant liability should they escape the stucco building and two outdoor cages where they are being kept.

The tigers weigh 500-700 pounds; the leopard, 75 pounds.

Wilson said area residents are also concerned about the cats being kept within a few blocks of a school zone.

"The idea of a 6-year-old being mauled ... is why we're here, that's why the codes are here," Wilson said.

Zoo keeper mauled to death 'after defecating on tiger'

A young Chinese tiger keeper has been mauled to death after apparently trying to defecate on one of his big cats.
The 19-year-old appears to have climbed the railings of the Bengal tiger cage and pulled his trousers down.
Evidence at the scene of the death at the Jinan animal park included toilet paper, excrement and a trouser belt.
Zoo officials think Xu Xiaodong either slipped into the cage or was pulled in by one of the four angry tigers.
According to the South China Morning Post, the man told a co-worker he needed to go to the toilet but police were called when he failed to return.
They found his body lying on the ground surrounded by tigers. The teenager had reportedly been bitten in the neck and was covered in blood.

Police believe Xu climbed the wall of a partially constructed building used to raise the tigers to relieve himself. They said the smell probably caused the tigers to pounce. Visitor attacked by jaguar after climbing zoo fence to get photo

A visitor has been bitten by a jaguar after climbing into its zoo enclosure so she could get a better picture.
The 20-year-old jumped a metre-high fence at Antwerp Zoo, then climbed over a wall with cacti on top.
Other visitors shouted at her to get back, but she continued and slipped into a moat surrounding the big cats.
One jaguar struck as she pulled herself to her feet against a fence, biting her on the hand and wrist.
Gazet van Antwerpen reports the woman from Bergen started to scream and the animal let go. She was rescued by keepers and is being treated in hospital.
Zoo manager Peter Van den Eijnde said: "I don't know what that woman was up to. You can't expect to be a house kitten sitting at the other side of the fence.
"Even our own workers don't want to get very near if they don't need to. I think she was lucky she started to scream. That probably scared the jaguar so much he loosened his prey."

Story filed: 13:52 Monday 29th July 2002 American tourist injured after petting lions

An American woman is recovering after being attacked by three young lions after she attempted to pet them at a game lodge in South Africa.
Kimberly Thomen, a tourist from Sugarland, Texas, is in stable condition after the attack at the Leshoka Thabang Game Lodge.
The 34-year-old, had started petting one of the lions from behind an enclosure when it began clawing at her.
She then screamed and two other lions lunged towards her, injuring her left arm and shoulder.
It was not immediately clear if the other two lions were also in the enclosure during the attack. Tour guides pulled the lions off of her.
The tourists at the game lodge were apparently told by the managers that the lions were placid, the report said.
The management said they would be investigating the incident.
Meanwhile, Kimberly Thomen said she was in no rush to see any more lions during her visit.
"I don't want to see a lion anytime soon," she told the South African Broadcasting Corporation from her hospital bed.

Story filed: 16:59 Saturday 8th June 2002 Girl mauled by lion tied up outside shop

A three-year-old girl is recovering after being mauled by a lioness tied up outside a shop in Romania.
The store owner in Constanta says he was left to look after the nine-month-old animal temporarily for a friend.
He has been fined for not preventing the attack and the animal's owner is being investigated by police for assault.
Carmen Ghenciu was walking with her mother when she noticed the lion and tried to play with it. The lioness turned on her and she suffered cuts to her chest, belly and buttocks which needed hospital treatment.
She was only saved from serious injury by passing vet's assistant Iorgu Petrica, who fought off the lion while the girl was rescued by another man.
Mr Petrica said the child was lucky the lion didn't grab her by the throat, as the predator does to its prey in the wild.
Major Constantin Dincu, of Constanta police, says the owner, a Russian man, is being investigated for physical assault and the shop owner was fined the equivalent of £450.
Ownership of dangerous animals by private citizens is not forbidden by Romanian law, but there are restrictions on where they can be kept.
Photographers in Constanta, a resort town on the Black Sea coast, regularly use lions, monkeys or camels to attract clients.

Story filed: 14:52 Wednesday 15th May 2002 25-stone lion bites off keeper's arm

A zookeeper in Florida has had her right arm bitten off while feeding a 12-year-old male lion.
Max, who weighs 25 stone, bit the woman's arm off at Busch Gardens in Tampa.
He attacked the keeper through a bar-style fence while she was giving her family a behind-the-scenes tour of the theme park.
The unnamed woman was flown with the severed limb to Tampa General Hospital by helicopter.
She is understood to be in a serious condition.

Story filed: 05:14 Monday 13th May 2002 Fleeing 'robber' mauled to death by tigers

A suspected robber has been killed by tigers while trying to escape through a South African safari park.
The man and two others allegedly threatened kiosk staff at the Rhino and Lion Nature Reserve in Kromdraai.
Police say he was chased by a member of staff and ended up climbing over a fence into the tiger enclosure.
Vets had to tranquillise the tigers so police could recover his body, the IOL website reports.
Superintendent Melica Bezuidenhout said the three men had arrived at the nature reserve pretending to be tourists.
The two surviving suspects were arrested.

Story filed: 14:48 Sunday 10th March 2002 Big cats kill zoo keeper

Three jaguars have attacked and killed a Vienna zookeeper after she entered a cage.
With zoo visitors looking on, the 21-year-old keeper was killed instantly when a black jaguar pounced on her, biting her in the neck.
Afraid that the large cats would escape from the cage, many of the visitors standing nearby ran away from the scene, screaming.
The director of the Austrian capital's Schoenbrunn zoo, Helmut Pechlaner, was injured by the jaguars after rushing to the enclosure to help the victim.
Pechlaner, 55, was taken by helicopter to a local hospital where doctors operated on his left hand.
Officials at the zoo said they did not yet know how the accident occurred, but suspected that the three jaguars had burst into the cage through a hatch which had not been locked correctly.
The zoo's deputy directory, Gerhard Kasbauer, said zoo employees never enter enclosures with dangerous animals.

Story filed: 17:04 Tuesday 5th March 2002 Woman attacked by tiger while painting 'Tarzan's' home

A Florida woman has been attacked by a tiger while decorating the home of a former Tarzan actor.
Carol Pistilli was bitten on the back of her head by four-year-old Bobo as she painted part of his cage.
Steve Sipek has a permit to keep two lions, four tigers, a black leopard and a cougar in his home.
He allows the big cats to wander the premises and even sleeps in the same area. A sign outside his home in Loxahatchee warns trespassers will be eaten, reports the Florida Sun-Sentinel.
Wildlife officers say Mr Sipek looks after his animals well and the incident was an accident. Mrs Pistilli, 58, is in hospital but her injuries are not thought to be life-threatening.
It is reported she had fed some of the big cats steaks a few minutes before the attack and thought the animals had gone outside when she walked into their cage.
Mr Sipek said: "She didn't think to close the door. She started painting and he pounced on her. Bobo, he's a wonderful cat. He wouldn't hurt anybody. He's a puppy, not a tiger."
Mr Sipek starred as Tarzan in two films under the name Steve Hawkes. He says he fell in love with big cats when a lion dragged him away from a fire on a film set.

Story filed: 16:41 Sunday 3rd February 2002 Man climbs into lions den in 'suicide' bid

A man who was distraught over the death of his son has been mauled to death after climbing into the lions' den at Lisbon zoo.
Gardeners saw the man climb over a 3ft wall and drop about 12ft into a protective moat.
A lioness jumped into the water and bit the man in the neck, killing him instantly.
Zoo director Fernando Garcao said the man's son had been killed in what he thought may have been a shooting incident.
Police have refused to identify the man, who he said was in his 60s, until his relatives have been notified.
He would not confirm that the victim's son had been killed.
Garcao said: "We never thought anyone would do this."

Story filed: 18:00 Thursday 24th January 2002 Three-year-old killed by pet tiger

A pet tiger has killed a three-year-old boy in Texas.
The boy was posing for a photo with the 18-stone animal when it dragged him away by the foot.
The tiger's owner, Kerry Quinney, managed to release the boy but he died in hospital.
Mr Quinney, of Lexington, has raised the Bengal and Siberian-cross tiger called Nala since birth.
Animal care officials say he did have a federal licence to keep three tigers, but it expired three months ago.
Mr Quinney wasn't available for comment.
According to the Austin American-Statesman, the dead boy was his step grandson.
The youngster's parents were there when the incident happened.
Lee County Sheriff Joe Goodson says no criminal charges have been filed.

Story filed: 19:32 Friday 12th October 2001 Lion kills keeper at Paris zoo

A lion in a Parisian zoo has killed one of his keepers.
Prince ripped open the man's carotid artery at Zoo de Vincennes.
Philippe Bourlon's fellow keeper is in hospital suffering from shock, Le Parisien reports.
Officials say the lion escaped and attacked the 23-year-old before returning to his cage.
It has been isolated from the zoo's other lions.
Mr Bourlon had worked at the zoo since 1997.
The zoo is open as normal.

Story filed: 12:21 Wednesday 26th September 2001 Lion tamer 'thrown around like rag doll' by circus big cats

An Australian lion tamer has been mauled by two of his big cats during a circus performance.
Geoffrey Lennon of Lennon Brothers Circus is undergoing surgery for puncture wounds to his chest, back, arms and buttocks. He was taken to hospital in a serious condition.
His grandmother, Caroline, told Ananova they "threw him around like a rag doll" at the circus in Penrith, western Sydney.
She said the lions will probably be retired, saying: "Once they've tasted blood they're dangerous."
Emergency workers had to wait for the animals to be pushed back by fire hoses before they could reach Mr Lennon.
Paramedics say Mr Lennon, 40, was suffering severe shock when they arrived to treat him.
But his grandmother said there are no plans to cancel future shows.
"The shows will go on," she told Ananova. "But without the lions."
No one else was injured during the attack.

Story filed: 11:34 Saturday 11th August 2001 Tiger mauls trainer to death as he protects colleague

A tiger has mauled an animal trainer to death as he tried to protect his colleague.
Vincent Lowe and a female trainer were fixing a fence at Savage Kingdom in Sumter County, Florida, when the Siberian tiger lunged at them.
They tried to use a board to push the tiger back into its holding cage but as it overpowered them, Mr Lowe insisted the woman get out of the compound and secure the gate behind her.
Lt Gary Brannen said the tiger tore a gash in Mr Lowe's neck, broke his ribs and clawed his head and arms. The park's owner, Mr Robert Baudy, shot the animal dead.
When paramedics arrived Mr Lowe was dead, reports the Orlando Sentinel.
Lt Brannen said: "He was trying to keep the cat at bay until she could get out. He told her to get out and shut the door. Maybe he thought he'd be able to control the animal and get it back into the other cage."

Story filed: 17:26 Wednesday 1st August 2001 Tiger fatally mauls worker at animal park

A tiger broke through its cage at an exotic animal park in northern Florida and fatally mauled a 49-year-old worker.
The man had entered a cage at Savage Kingdom, near Orlando, to make repairs.
The male Siberian in an adjoining cage broke through the wires and pounced.
The tiger was shot by the park's operator big cat expert so rescue crews could get inside.
Paramedics said the man suffered a fatal bite to his neck and severe injuries to his head, arm and ribs.
The dead worker had a gun for protection, but he was unable to fire it and it was found on the ground.
Savage Kingdom breeds exotic animals for zoos and attractions throughout the world.
Once open to the public as a zoo, admission into the park is now severely restricted.
In March 1997, a Siberian tiger escaped from the park and seriously injured a worker before it was shot.

Story filed: 02:51 Wednesday 1st August 2001 Tiger that bit girl destroyed for testing

A white Siberian tiger which broke out of its cage and bit a seven-year-old girl has been destroyed so it could be tested for rabies.
The death was ordered on Friday after the two-year-old tiger's owners lost an appeal in court to have the action delayed pending submission of additional evidence.
Como the tiger broke out at a private wild animal park in Racine, Minnesota, last Sunday and bit Emily Hartman, who was with her mother in a building not usually open to the public.
Emily was released from a hospital on Wednesday.
State law requires that when an animal other than a vaccinated dog or house cat bites a person, its brain must be examined for rabies or the victim must get rabies shots.
While modern rabies shots are described as less painful than they were several years ago, the girl's parents, Tom and Mary Hartman, told officials she had had negative reactions to vaccinations before and refused to allow the shots.
Ken Craft, who owns the shelter, was disappointed officials couldn't find a way to spare the rare animal.
"This is a bunch of baloney," Mr Craft said. "We do not want people to think we put this cat ahead of the little girl, but I think we could have had both."
Christine Chandler, curator of the park, said she wanted authorities to take whatever tissue they needed for their tests and then leave Como so the tiger could be stuffed.
"This tiger will be mounted," she said. "That's something I'm normally not in favour of, but in this case I want everyone who comes in to be reminded of what happened."

Story filed: 12:54 Saturday 28th July 2001 Big Cats presenter mauled by a lion


Zoologist Nigel Marven has been mauled by a lion during the filming of new ITV documentary Big Cats.
The incident occurred as the presenter stood next to a hand-reared adult lion called Napoleon.
Napoleon stuck a claw into his leg and then tried to take a bite out of his head.
Mr Marven said: "I was a complete stranger so, understandably, Napoleon was a bit hostile."
Other highlights of the show include two leopards mating aggressively in the African bush and some intimate contact with Siberian tigers. ITV wildlife special Big Cats is on Sunday July 22.

Story filed: 16:17 Wednesday 11th July 2001 Lions maul zookeeper to death

A zookeeper has been mauled to death by four lions at a zoo in Valladolid, north-west Spain.
The zoo authorities said that the 25-year-old had taken the animals into another part of their cage but had not secured the door properly.
The body of the man, who has not been named, could only be recovered six hours after the incident because the animals first had to be shot with tranquilliser guns.

Story filed: 15:19 Friday 29th June 2001 Boy bitten by lion in Romanian street

An eight-year-old boy was attacked by a lion in Romania's second-biggest city.
Ionut Chicus was bitten on his shoulder by the lion, which had escaped from a photographer who was offering the animal to tourists to have their picture taken with it.
The lion was recaptured by police in Brasov, southern Transylvania. The boy is recovering in hospital.

Story filed: 15:40 Thursday 12th April 2001 Children watch as tiger mauls another to death

A group of kindergarten children looked on in horror as one tiger mauled another to death at a Nebraska zoo.
It happened after the two rare animals were accidentally allowed into the same cage at the zoo in Omaha. One staff member at Henry Doorly Zoo has been fired and another suspended.
A faulty gate and human error allowed the two tigers to wander into the same outdoor cage, zoo director Lee Simmons said. News of the attack surfaced after the mother of one of the children rang the zoo to find out how the victim was.
The Indochinese tiger, a male, killed the female Bengal tiger "in the blink of an eye," Mr Simmons said. Both are rare breeds.
Mr Simmons said: "A couple of our folks simply lost their focus and put some animals where they weren't supposed to be."
The zoo had planned to use the Bengal tiger as a surrogate mother in its embryo transfer program, which is aimed at maximising the number of Bengals that are born. The zoo now has three Bengals.
The Indochinese tiger is one of two that the zoo has on loan from the Cincinnati Zoo.

Story filed: 17:26 Tuesday 10th April 2001 Woman killed by ailing leopard

A sick leopard has attacked and killed a woman in a South African safari park.
Kotie De Beer, 49, is the first Kruger National Park employee to be killed by a leopard.
The cat, which is thought to have launched the attack as it had heart disease and couldn't live with other leopards, was tracked down and shot an hour after the attack.
Kruger National Park director David Mabunda says it had apparently gone to the staff village where it could find easy prey.
Illegal immigrants are occasionally eaten by lions while they try to sneak through the park that lies on the Mozambique border.

Story filed: 11:06 Friday 9th March 2001 Injured man 'mauled by tiger'

A 54-year-old man has apparently been mauled by a tiger.
The man was reportedly attacked in the grounds of a manor house near Keal Cotes, near Spilsby, Lincolnshire.
Police say he was taken to the Pilgrim Hospital in Boston for injuries not thought to be life-threatening. He is in a satisfactory condition.
Officials from East Lindsey District Council have been alerted after reports the tiger was part of a circus.
Ambulance control room manager Chris Stocks said: "We got a report of a chap who had been attacked by a tiger. We understand he keeps them at the location but that is only a suggestion."
A Lincolnshire police spokesman said: "Officers attended a location near Keal Cotes after reports of an animal attack on a 54-year-old male. "

Story filed: 12:37 Tuesday 6th February 2001 Man attacked by pet lion

A landlord in the US was attacked by a lion cub when he went to check one of his properties.
Ray Besore was attacked by the mountain lion cub at the house in Omaha, Nebraska, after his tenant had been arrested for an armed robbery.
The beast pounced at him but he managed to escape from the home without being injured. Authorities will question the alleged bank robber before deciding what to do with his pet.

Story filed: 19:43 Wednesday 20th December 2000 Girl mauled by German circus animal

A circus animal that broke through its cage critically wounded a five-year-old girl while trying to pull her back inside.
The liger, a cross between a lion and tiger, was passing through an enclosed entry tunnel at the Saturday afternoon circus in Germany when it reached its paw through the bars and grabbed the girl's left foot, tearing her skin and muscle tissue.
Her father and another man managed to pull her away, preventing the animal from dragging her inside the cage.
Police are investigating whether the fault for the accident in the Bavarian town of Amberg lies with the circus for deficient safety measures or with the girl's parents.
The animal's trainer had warned the audience to stay back before the liger made its entrance. However, a fence that was installed between the seats and the tunnel as additional security wasn't securely fastened, and the liger was able to knock it over to grab the girl.

Story filed: 12:55 Sunday 5th November 2000 Man killed after entering tiger's cage

A mentally handicapped man has been killed by a tiger after jumping into its cage at an Indian zoo.
The 20-year-old was bitten in the neck after he climbed into the enclosure with the white tiger at Peshwe Park Zoo in Pune, near Bombay.
He was rescued by zoo officials who drove the tiger back into its second cage, but the man was declared dead on arrival at hospital.
Police say the man had been seen loitering around the nearby Sarasbaug Gardens, where a security guard drove him away, The Times of India reports.
The boy then went to the zoo and jumped into the cage with the tiger which pounced and bit him.

Story filed: 11:34 Monday 9th October 2000 The Express
July 4, 2000


THERE are now an estimated 7,000 tigers owned as pets in the US - about as many as are free in the wild, worldwide. But as they mature from cubs into prospective killers, many are abandoned or given up by people ill-prepared to handle them.

Now cast-off pet tigers and other exotic pets such as lions and leopards are becoming a problem for America. The lack of regulation and safety standards together with declining prices is creating a public menace, say animal rights advocates who struggle to find homes in zoos and sanctuaries for the big cats. Some rescue centres more used to dealing with dogs and cats have had to create special wings to house larger felines.

Most owners fall in love with the big cats when they are playful, cuddly cubs.

"But as they get bigger, people can't afford them or can't physically handle them any more," said Sue Neil of the Houston chapter of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. She added that de-clawing them - a route often taken by owners - is not only cruel but makes them more aggressive.

Ten years ago, one of these magnificent beasts would have fetched thousands of dollars in a market dominated by a tiny number of established dealers. Now, as prices have dropped to lower than that paid for many dog breeds, a new crop of sellers eager to exploit their wild allure has emerged.

Classified adverts in newspapers and on the Internet offer leopards for GBP 250, urging prospective buyers: "Bring the wild into your home."

And exotic pet newsletters offer for sale big cats of almost every species, including tiger cubs for GBP 200.

Veterinarian Greg Hayes of Boulder, Colorado, who raises exotic pets for the entertainment industry, says many dealers intent only on making money "pass themselves off as conservationists or educators when they really don't know anything about raising these animals".

Ownership, mainly in the South and Midwest, varies from couples wanting them as house pets, and animal lovers who have their own zoos, to even drug dealers who use them as watch-cats.

"Even when the big cats are only playing, they can kill," warns the US Agriculture Depart-ment, which is trying to discourage all but qualified, trained professionals from owning them.

In the past year, a four-year-old had an arm torn off by his uncle's Bengal tiger in Longview, Texas, and a girl of 10 was killed by her stepfather's pair of Siberian tigers in Yorktown, Texas.

At present, breeders and dealers must be licensed by the government, which conducts periodic inspections of facilities. But ownership is not federally controlled and, other than half-a-dozen states including Georgia and New Jersey that prohibit them as pets, owners don't face any regulations at all.Animal rights advocates insist that the least the government can do is introduce obligatory training for owners.

LOAD-DATE: July 3, 2000 Escaped jaguar kills child
From BBC News 6 th December 1998
A jaguar which escaped from a zoo in western France has killed a young boy.
The animal bit and mauled Gregoire Lucazeau on Saturday afternoon, and seriously injured the boy's father as he desperately tried to fight it off.
The jaguar was one of two 100kg females that tunnelled out of their cage at a zoo in Doue-la-Fontaine, near Poitiers, 250km (150 miles) from Paris.
The animals scratched away at earth under the perimeter fence of their enclosure and slipped through the gap.
They headed for a group of visitors and one of them turned on the boy.
The attacking jaguar was shot by police and the other was captured and put to sleep on Sunday morning because it showed signs of aggressive behaviour.
Both animals had been bred at the zoo, which has around 200,000 visitors a year.
The authorities are now investigating how the boy was attacked. The zoo has been closed until further notice.
“The child didn't pass through any security zone," state prosecutor Yves Gambert told France Info radio.
The boy was bitten repeatedly in the head and died of his wounds. His father, an officer from the nearby military training college at Angers, tackled the creature bare-handed. The man was hospitalised with head wounds, but is out of danger.
He was "very courageous, because he tried to free his son from the claws of the animal," nurse Noura Oumaziz told French television LCI.