Thursday, November 17, 2005

Big Cats in the News

Big Cats in the News

Breaking News: Loose tiger found, tranquilized

Staff Report

Updated: 11/17/2005 6:59:57 AM

GREENWICH -- A tiger that escaped from a game farm in Greenwich on Wednesday morning was found about three and a half hours later and tranquilized, authorities said.

The 7 year old 350- to 400-pound female tiger, named Tahan, found about a mile from the outdoor zoo, was shot twice with tranquilizer darts.

She was trained to do tricks, including walking on her hind legs.

The gold and white tabby Bengal tiger was described as being docile by its owner Jeff Ash, who operates the Ashville Game Farm & Exotic Zoo on Lick Spring Road in Greenwich. Ash, though, said the tiger had the potential to be dangerous if cornered.

The loose tiger prompted Argyle Central School, several miles away, to cancel outdoor recess Wednesday.

The tiger escaped about 10:30 a.m. from the game farm and was tranquilized just before 2 p.m.

Anybody lose a tiger?
Tuesday, September 13, 2005 8:50 AM CDT
Cute cub found at Leary exit on I-30
Texarkana Gazette

A tiger cub spent some time at the Hooks animal shelter Monday after it was found running in and out of traffic on Interstate 30.

"We thought it was a joke when we got the call but when we got there, it was really a tiger. It was just standing by the road," said Hooks Police Sgt. David Horn.

The first call about the tiger was reported at 7:40 a.m. and the caller described the animal as "running in and out of traffic."

Horn responded to the calls about the tiger along with Bowie County Sheriff's Deputies George Huggins Jr. and Eugene Swift.

Horn said the female cub weighs a little over 100 pounds and is very tame.

She was wearing a collar and had been declawed.

"It had been somebody's pet. She's pretty gentle," he said.

The Bowie County deputies described the tiger as a "big old house cat"

It is illegal to keep a wild animal in Bowie County and the charge is classified as a class C misdemeanor.

Capt. James Manning, chief deputy for the Bowie County Sheriff's Department, said no one had reported a tiger cub missing as of Monday afternoon.

The tiger spent most of Monday at the Hooks Animal Shelter feasting on raw steak and tater tots.

Employees from the Tiger Creek Wildlife Refuge in Tyler, Texas, were expected to pick her up late Monday afternoon.

"We get calls like this from all over," said Gail Bendel, office manager for the refuge.

The Tiger Creek Wildlife Refuge has 38 big cats including tigers, lions, cougars and leopards.

"All of our cats have been rescued from somewhere," Bendel said. "Some were pets, some were abused and some are retired from the circus."

She said life at the refuge will be pretty easy for the tiger cub.

"It will get fat and sassy here. We don't ask them to do anything but be happy. When they come here, they are here for the duration."

Posted on Thu, Aug. 18, 2005
Teenager killed by tiger at Kansas animal sanctuary
Associated Press

MOUND VALLEY, Kan. - A Siberian tiger attacked and killed a teenage girl who
was posing for a picture at an animal sanctuary Thursday morning in
southeast Kansas, authorities said.

The Labette County Sheriff's office identified the victim as Haley R.
Hilderbrand, 17, of Altamont. A release said Hilderbrand was at the Lost
Creek Animal Sanctuary posing for a photo with the 7-year-old tiger, which
was being restrained by its handler, when the animal turned and attacked

Officers and handlers killed the animal. Emergency personnel were not able
to revive Hilderbrand, who was later pronounced dead at the scene.

Investigators have sent the tiger's body to Kansas State University in
Manhattan for a necropsy.

"This animal had been around people across the country and there's never
been a problem," Sheriff William Blundell said in a telephone interview.

Doug Billingsly and his family opened the 80-acre sanctuary in 1994.
According to the sanctuary's Web site, the sanctuary has lions, leopards,
bears, white tigers and even a liger, a rare cross between a lion and a

The Web site also says the sanctuary has an affiliated Animal Entertainment
Productions, which trains animals for stage performances, movies, television
shows and magic shows.

Billingsly didn't immediately return a phone call for comment.
Condition still critical for boy mauled by lion, tiger
By Lora Pabst and Kari Petrie,

A 10-year-old Royalton boy who was attacked by a tiger and a lion Wednesday
still was in critical condition Friday night.

Russell LaLa was in the intensive care unit at Hennepin County Medical
Center in Minneapolis.

Morrison County Sheriff Michel Wetzel said he has not filed a report with
the county attorney for possible charges against Chuck Mock, who owned the
cats. Wetzel expects to do so in a week.

The sheriff said he is waiting to get LaLa's complete medical report to see
the extent of the child's injuries. Then the county attorney can get a
better picture of the entire incident, Wetzel said. But he said his office
is not rushing to complete the report because there is no obvious crime.

"We don't know of any violations," he said. But he said once the county
attorney gets the report, he may find a violation.

Mock had 12 exotic animals registered with Morrison County. According to
county documents, he had five tigers, six lions and one bear. The two
animals who attacked LaLa were euthanized Thursday.

A state law that went into effect Jan. 1 prohibits people from possessing
animals such as large cats, primates such as monkeys and apes, and bears.

There are several exceptions to the law, including people who owned such
animals before Jan. 1. They were required to register their animals.

Wetzel said the law doesn't go far enough, because people are still allowed
to own exotic animals.

"It doesn't protect from an act of bad judgment or a fluke," he said. "I
don't think anyone but a zoo should have a large predator."

Rosie Beffinbaugh, St. Cloud's environmental health technician, said: "We
haven't had any applications or knowledge of any exotic animals in St.

LaLa was with his father when he was attacked about 10:45 p.m. Wednesday at
Best Buy Auto, three miles south of Little Falls. Mock owns the business and
kept the animals near it.

Mock opened the door of a cage and a tiger pushed its way out, Wetzel said.
LaLa was alarmed and he moved away quickly. The animal pounced on him, he
said. When the men pulled the tiger off the boy, a lion that shared a cage
with the tiger lunged at the boy, Wetzel said.

Mock could not be reached for comment.,0,6619459.story?coll=sfla-news-palm
Bengal tiger escapes from cage

Officers use tranquilizer darts to capture Tristan

By Akilah Johnson
Staff Writer
Posted February 27 2005

A 500-pound tiger escaped from its cage at Panther Ridge Sanctuary in Wellington and trotted around its compound sniffing at horses for more than two hours Saturday before wildlife officers captured it, officials said.

About 9:40 a.m., a woman feeding Tristan didn't latch the cage completely, and the Bengal tiger pushed past her and escaped, officials said. Tristan's owner, called 911.

More than 20 Palm Beach County sheriff's deputies and state wildlife officers arrived at 14755 Palm Beach Pointe Blvd. By noon, wildlife officers -- with the help of David Hitzig, executive director Jupiter's Busch Wildlife Sanctuary -- were able to tranquilize the tiger and return it to its cage, Willie Puz, a Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission spokesman, said.

Two tranquilizer darts were be used because the first had little effect, Puz said. The second dart startled Tristan, making the cat take a couple of quick steps, Puz said. But the tiger didn't run, and its actions weren't much of a threat, he said.

Then, 4-year-old Tristan became groggy, lay down and went to sleep, he said.

Tristan's escape reminded many of an incident seven months ago, when a 600-pound Bengal tiger named Bobo escaped from his cage and his compound in Loxahatchee. Bobo was on the loose for 26 hours before he was shot dead by a Conservation Commission officer, who said the cat lunged at him while he was waiting for other officers to arrive with a tranquilizer gun.

During Tristan's two-hour jaunt Saturday, the cat approached several horses on the 10-acare property, which is both a refuge for abused, neglected or abandoned cats and a horse farm.

"The horse kind of kicked at it, and the tiger said, `I don't want any part of this' and just walked away," Puz, said.

Judy Berens, Tristan's owner, was cited for escaped captive wildlife, a second-degree misdemeanor, punishable by 60 days in jail or a $500 fine. This was her first infraction, Puz said.

Berens could not be reached for comment despite attempts by phone.

According to the sanctuary's Web site, Panther Ridge has 16 large cats, including Amos, a black leopard, and Eros and China, two spotted leopards. Some were left with her; others Berens bought because she felt they weren't being taken care of properly.

A German film crew doing a documentary about how easy it is to buy exotic animals in the United States bought Tristan but was unable to find a qualified zoo to adopt the tiger when the film was completed, according to the Web site.

Tristan never made it outside of the sanctuary's perimeter fence or came in contact with the public Saturday, but officials didn't take any chances.

"If a wild animal gets out of its cage there's a potential for anything," Puz said. "Even for the people who were in the compound."

The sanctuary provides tours, but it was unclear Saturday if one was taking place when Tristan escaped.

There were sheriff's deputies and wildlife officers with rifles inside and outside the perimeter fence in case the tiger ran or got out of the fence, officials said.

The incident with Bobo created a public furor. Bobo's owner, former B-movie Tarzan Steve Sipek, accused the officer of killing the declawed cat unnecessarily, claiming the officer panicked and disputing the officer's account of Bobo lunging at him.

Commission officers around the state where threatened after the shooting, something Puz said has sense subsided. He got his last piece of hate mail about Christmas, he said.

Akilah Johnson can be reached at or 561-243-6645.

St. Petersburg FL Times
February 24, 2005

Woman is nipped on hand by tiger
She was not seriously hurt by the cub, which was on display with two adults at a car lot.

An Oldsmar woman was bitten on the hand by an infant tiger two weeks ago during an exhibit at a car dealership on Tampa Road, authorities said.

Sandra Hopps-Caraballo received two punctures to her right hand from a baby Bengal tiger, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Two adult tigers and two infant tigers were on display at the Tampa Bay Auto Mall on Feb. 12. The adult tigers weighed about 450 and 550 pounds. The cubs were small enough that the animals' caregivers could cradle them in their arms.

The two infant tigers were positioned so people could have their photographs taken with them, said Lt. Steve DeLacure, with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

The commission licenses and regulates pet ownership and other uses associated with exotic animals in the state.

DeLacure said Hopps-Caraballo was having her picture taken with the cub when it bit her.

Hopps-Caraballo could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Owner Ron Wordon, a Palm Harbor resident, said the animals were there for customers' entertainment and to educate local children.

Wordon has been selling high-end used cars at the Tampa Road auto lot for about 18 months.

"The whole exhibit was a great idea in terms of educating the kids," Wordon said. "Everybody seemed to enjoy it."

Wordon said a representative from advertising agency Bottomline Events, in conjunction with Zoo Dynamics, which provides animals to zoos and exhibits, offered to bring the tigers in for free as a one-time weekend promotional event at the dealership. Wordon agreed to host the tigers on his property for three days.

During that time, they were under the care of Marcus Cook, the wildlife exhibitor for Zoo Dynamics.

After the bite, sheriff's deputy was sent to the lot, followed by officials from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Cook was charged with unsafe handling of captive wildlife, resulting in an injury to a person. He was instructed to remove the baby tiger from public contact during his exhibition in Florida.

Zoo Dynamics could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

DeLacure said Hopps-Caraballo refused rabies treatment. To treat for rabies, the baby tiger would have to be euthanized so a brain tissue sample could be collected for testing.

"It was not serious at all, it was two small puncture wounds to the right hand made with the canines," DeLacure said. "She did not even go to a hospital."

DeLacure said the last tiger bite to occur in the area was in the late 1990s when a tiger attacked a handler during a private photo shoot at the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus at Bayfront Center.

Posted on Wed, Feb. 23, 2005
Tiger shot, killed near Reagan library

Associated Press

MOORPARK, Calif. - Authorities shot and killed a tiger Wednesday that had been roaming for days in the hills near the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library.

The cat was shot several hundred yards from school soccer and baseball fields at the edge of a housing development, said Lorna Bernard, a spokeswoman for the California Department of Fish and Game. Authorities still don't know who the owner is.

"It's unfortunate that we had to kill it," Bernard said. "It's even more unfortunate that the person who owned it didn't come forward and alert us immediately. We might have been able to capture it."

The hunters had been looking for the animal for eight days, using infrared equipment at night. They had set traps with goat meat and chicken.

Federal wildlife service trackers had to shoot to kill because a tranquilizer would have taken several minutes to bring down the animal and the hunters or others could have been in danger.

The hunt began after the discovery of paw prints on a ranch near the library that were far too large for native bobcats or mountain lions. The size of the tracks indicated the animal weighed as much as 600 pounds; officials thought it might even be a lion.

The area has a number of ranches and large estates.

Two weeks ago, authorities removed nearly two dozen large cats, including lions and tigers, from a Moorpark animal sanctuary not far from the library. Bernard said all the animals that had been kept on that property were accounted-for.

The animal's body was removed via helicopter.,2933,105818,00.html

Woman's Tiger Fatally Mauls 10-Year-Old Nephew
Monday, December 15, 2003

MILLERS CREEK, N.C. — A woman's 400-pound Bengal tiger fatally mauled her 10-year-old nephew after pulling him under a fence and into his cage, authorities said.

The boy, Clayton James Eller, was shoveling snow Sunday afternoon near the tiger's cage, an enclosure made of chain link fence that had an opening at the bottom so the family's dog could go in and play, officials said.

"This little boy got too close, and it pulled him under the fence," Coroner Howard Laney said.

The boy's uncle, James Marshall Eller, heard Clayton scream and saw it dragging the boy into its cage. Sheriff Dane Mastin said Eller tried in vain to to get the tiger off the boy, then ran and got his gun and shot the tiger to death. But it was too late to save the boy.

The boy's mother, Angela Eller, had left the boy in the care of her sister Ruth Bynum, the tiger's owner, while she went to work, Mastin said. James Eller is the brother of the two women.

Mastin said he wasn't aware of any previous complaints about the tiger.