Saturday, December 31, 2005

1993-2005

The Houston Chronicle Publishing Company
November 10, 1998
Searchers kill 2nd escaped tiger in thicket near Cut and Shoot
BY: PAUL McKAY

CUT AND SHOOT - The second of two tigers that escaped from a cage in a rural neighborhood was shot to death
Monday by searchers who said they had no choice.

The 500-pound Siberian female, which had eluded searchers for more than 30 hours, was killed by six shotgun blasts after charging toward one of her pursuers in a thicket, authorities said. The animal was killed about one-half mile from the compound that was her home off Waukegan Road in east Montgomery County.

She and a male Siberian had gotten free about 6:30 a.m. Sunday after slipping past the caretaker who had entered their cage to feed them, authorities said.

The male, weighing almost 700 pounds, was shot and killed later Sunday in the yard of homeowner Nathan Miles. Miles said he, his wife and their six children watched from inside their mobile home as the tiger mauled one of their 200-pound hogs before county animal control officer Jim Blount shot the escaped beast four times with a shotgun...

"I don't really care about the hog because a hog can always be replaced," he said. "What concerns me is that one of my kids could have been outside and gotten mauled."

The second tiger turned out to be more elusive as law enforcement officers and scores of gun-wielding volunteers with tracking dogs kept her confined to a 30-acre thicket across the street from Miles' home.

Around 3 p.m. Monday, six shots boomed in the dense woods before a group of searchers emerged with the felled animal stretched across the back of an all-terrain vehicle.

Scott Kurtz, a 25-year-old logger who had joined the hunt, said he was trying to protect himself when he shot the charging creature in the face.

"When I shot her, she just turned around and started running in another direction before the rest of the people in the group finished her off," Kurtz said. "We had her surrounded under a tree and we were waiting for somebody to show up with a (tranquilizer) gun, but she came out charging right at me.

"I just reacted," he said. "I'd rather it could have come out of the woods alive. It's a beautiful animal."

"...It's too bad she had to be killed," he [Sheriff's Lt. Larry Melton] said. "We had spread out and had been trying to get her to move toward a baited trap. When she charged that young man, there wasn't anything else to do."

Melton said the owner of the tigers, Reginald "Lefty" Parr, 47, of Houston, has a federal permit for the two that were killed and a Bengal tiger that did not escape from the compound.

The Associated Press State & Local Wire
April 2, 2001

Animal center closed after fatal tiger mauling

A facility where a trainer was mauled to death by a tiger last week has been closed after operating unlawfully for more than two years.

The center, operated by a company licensed as Safari Wildlife, never received a special use permit from the Clark County Planning Department as required, said county spokesman Jim Foreman.

In November, code enforcement officers notified property owner Andrea Prince that she was required to get the permit.

After she failed to comply, they visited the facility again four days before Eric Bloom, 25, was killed March 25 by a 300-pound Bengal tiger.

"They definitely need a use permit for those animals," Foreman said. "If we went back there next week, and the animals were still there, we would have written citation tickets because they hadn't followed through like they had said they were going to."

Joshua Weinstein, owner of Safari Wildlife, said a chimpanzee, baboon and four other exotic animals were shipped off the property last week to licensed facilities.

Safari Wildlife was licensed in February by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as federal law requires, but the facility never received the specialized zoning required by the county, Foreman said.



The Sun, July 23, 2002
Tiger Mauls TV Game Girl

A TV game show contestant was mauled by a tiger after being sent into a cage full of big cats.

Maria Berrios, 30, was trying to win a car on Chilean TV's Chile Tu Day show by spending three minutes in a cage with two tigers and two lions.

She had to stroke one of the animals but a tiger grabbed her, causing serious head and leg injuries.

Cops charged a circus boss who owned the cats with negligence. TV producers have been slammed as "irresponsible".



Century Newspapers Limited Belfast News Letter
February 7, 2001

TIGER BITES TRAINER AT FEED TIME

AN ANIMAL trainer escaped when he was mauled by a 550lb tiger.

Martin Lacey, 54, was recovering in hospital with bite wounds to his leg and shoulder after Monday's incident.

It happened when he was exercising three fully-grown tigers at his farm near Keal Cotes, Lincolnshire.

A friend of Mr Lacey, Dave Freeman, 52, said: "He was playing with them, feeding them, when he tripped over one of them.

"She instinctively turned round and nipped him on the leg and knee and then the shoulder.

"We always have other people there to help and they shouted and managed to scare all three away."

Mr Freeman insisted that his friend was not in any immediate danger.

"If she wanted to have caused damage, she could have. The last man I know that got bitten by a tiger hasn't got arms any more."

Mr Lacey has been training animals, including tigers, lions and horses, for over 30 years for circus and film work.

He acquired the tigers, all three-years-old, two years ago and was not training them for a specific purpose.

East Lindsey Council is investigating the matter in conjunction with Lincolnshire police.



Agence France Presse, August 13, 2000
Tiger mauls zookeeper to death in China

A 42-year-old zookeeper was mauled to death by a tiger while cleaning the inside of the animal's cage at a zoo near Beijing, local reports said Sunday.

Zhang Guoshong was found lying in a pool of blood by colleagues at the Shijiazhuang City Zoo after they were alerted by his screams, the Beijing Youth Daily reported.

The tiger savaged Zhang's left side and then returned to its favourite spot in the cage, the paper said.

Zhang was rushed to hospital but died despite efforts to revive him.

The tiger was given an anaesthetic shot and later died, although zookeepers refused to explain why.

Experts have suggested the anaesthetic was too strong.





McClatchy Newspapers, Inc.
November 14, 1998

SECOND KILLING BY WHITE TIGER

Six weeks after killing the trainer who raised it from a cub, a 400-pound white Bengal tiger on Friday mauled and killed one of its owners, a woman who had insisted the tiger wasn't vicious.

Doris Guay was leading Jupiter, a 3-year-old tiger, back to its pen Friday evening when the cat lunged unexpectedly and bit her in the neck. She is believed to have died immediately. On Oct. 8, the same cat killed its trainer, Charles Edward Lizza, 34, with a bite to the neck. Authorities classified the October death as a "freak accident."

The cat was gunned down Friday night by sheriff's deputies 15 feet from where it killed Lizza.

Lizza had been described by Guay's husband, Ron, as the son he never had. Ron Guay was steps away during both attacks.

Agence France Presse
December 21, 2000
Marxist Indian state bans performing animals
India's Marxist-ruled West Bengal state on Thursday banned the use of performing animals by any circus or roadside show.

The step came after a 21-year-old woman was badly mauled by three tigers last Friday while performing with the striped cats at a private circus in the eastern Indian state.

Bengal Forest Minister Jogesh Burman said using animals such as tigers, lions, panthers and bear for entertainment would no longer be allowed in the state.

"The West Bengal government has imposed the ban on using animals under the Prevention to Cruelty to
Animals Act," he said, warning the administration would take stern action against violators.

"If any circus is found using these animals for entertainment, it would be immediately asked to shut down. So would happen to an individual if he uses bear to entertain people on the roadside," he said.

"We just cannot think of wild beasts being caged just to entertain some people. They are born free and I am against restricting them, even in zoos," the minister added.

India's Supreme Court several years ago banned private zoos. Poaching or trapping rare wildlife is also considered a serious criminal offence in the country.

The Associated Press State & Local Wire
November 4, 2000
Pillager man's neighbors aren't big fans of his pet tiger, bear
BY: JODIE TWEED

It's a quiet Pillager neighborhood where several residents say they no longer go for walks because they're afraid of a neighbor's pets. Some parents don't allow their children to walk to the school bus stop anymore, either. But Rick Seidel says there's no reason for his neighbors to fear his unusual critters.

"For a man-eater, she's my baby," said Seidel, as he proudly petted his 275-pound Siberian tiger named Sheqkita, who shares a large outdoor cage with Pooh, a full-grown cinnamon bear, a relative of the black bear. "They're like a brother and a sister to each other."

Seidel bought the tiger and bear five years ago from a licensed game farm in Racine, Wis. The tiger originally came from the Kansas City Zoo, he said. They were born two days apart and Seidel has raised them together ever since they were cubs. He is licensed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to own the tiger and bear and also has a separate license by the Department of Natural Resources for the bear.

But Seidel's neighbors don't care what kind of licenses he has to legally own the exotic animals. They're worried that the animals will get out of their outdoor enclosure, which includes electric fencing. The bear got out this summer, they said, and ended up on another neighbor's deck, scrounging through the garbage.

"A lot of people are scared about it but there's nobody to call," said Alice Mullenix, the only neighbor who was willing to have her name published in The Brainerd Daily Dispatch. "What's going to happen is that someone's going to get mauled and then people are going to do something."

There are 39 children living within less than a mile of Seidel's home, said one neighbor, who won't let her children walk to the school bus stop anymore because of the tiger and bear.

After five years of living next door to the tiger and bear, Seidel's neighbors will be happy to know he is moving, along with his animals, to a home he recently bought near Clitherall, where he owns a bar.

"There are people who think that it's the greatest thing but then there are some who think it's the worst thing," Seidel said of his owning exotic animals.



The Hindu & Tribeca Internet Initiatives Inc.
Tiger kills youth in safari park
BY: By Our Staff Reporter

HYDERABAD, OCT. 19. Eighteen-year-old Mohammed Khaja was mauled to death by a tiger at the Nehru Zoological Park here on Tuesday afternoon when he fell into the Tiger Safari park trying to catch a kite after clambering a 20 ft. wall and a steel mesh atop it.

This is the second such incident in the safari park. Five years ago, a boy entered into it in search of a ball after having a bet with his friends that he would fetch it.

The Zoo Curator, Mr. K. N. Banerjee, said Mohammed Khaja, a resident of Mohammednagar Colony abutting the zoo, fell into the 40-acre Tiger Safari park with thick undergrowth and was almost immediately attacked by the lone tiger which was roaming around at that time. Usually at least four tigers are present in the safari park for the visitors to watch them through fortified vans.

The boy's father, who apparently warned his son against climbing onto the fence, raised an alarm on noticing the youth fall. Several people started shouting to alert the zoo employees. On receiving information, the Curator and his staff rushed to the safari park along with a doctor armed with a tranquilliser gun....

Having been alerted by the commotion, the tiger dragged the youth to a considerable distance into a thick undergrowth. Mr. Shekar Reddy, Assistant Curator, managed to get into the park from outside and located the badly injured youth. The other zoo workers made noises and threw stones to drive the tiger away from the spot. The body of the youth was dragged into a
van with the tiger lurking dangerously close and then transported to the Osmania General Hospital....

But, their brave act was in vain as it was ascertained that the youth had died on the spot. The body had injuries on the head, face and a deep wound on the chest.

The Conservator of Forests (Wildlife), Mr. A. V. Joseph, who visited the park, said it was quite tragic that a life was lost due to sheer bravado. ``We have built the wall and mesh to such a height that it would be difficult for the tigers to escape. The parents in the surrounding areas should ensure that their wards do not enter into the safari park,'' he said.

He said the height of the steel mesh would be further increased in addition to an incline facing the outside as well and covered with barbed wire.

Big cats on a short leash
Date: 08-03-2000; Publication: The Christian Science Monitor; Author: David Holmstrom, Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor




Joe Parker points to Bubba, one of his bushy-maned lions resting peacefully in the sun in a large, outdoor enclosure. "Bubba spent a few years of his life in a crack house in Cincinnati chained by the neck," Mr. Parker says.
Minutes later, Bubba sends out a thundering, deep-throated roar that moves through the trees and across the roofs of nearby houses like an express train. Bubba's industrial-strength voice stakes out his territory, a reminder to the other 66 lions, tigers, leopards, panthers, and cougars nearby that despite chain link fences between them, he rules.

But Bubba really doesn't rule at all anymore.

In fact, he and the other big cats in this self-described 40-acre animal sanctuary known as Tiger Haven are for the most part simply fortunate to be alive and well-fed.

Tiger Haven saved the cats from the plight of most captive-bred big cats in the United States. When they are old or in the way, few people want them, and even fewer want to take care of them. "Bubba, and many of the other cats, arrived here unwanted and abused," says Parker.

The extent of abuse among many of the estimated 5,000 to 9,000 big cats in captivity in the US, is in the open now. Journalists have uncovered widespread exploitation and abuse of big cats in zoos, traveling circuses, roadside zoos, and in suburban backyards where big cats live as caged "trophies." And each year, many children and adults are tragically attacked by big cats who remain untamed and unpredictable carnivores despite years of interacting with people.

Marginally protected by the federal Animal Welfare Act, and subject to ever-changing state and local laws, or no laws, many cats become tangled in mistreatment from birth to death. As documented in journalist Alan Green's recent book, "Animal Underworld: Inside America's Black Market for Rare and Exotic Species," many zoos sell grown cats as "surplus." (reviewed Oct. 30, '99)

Mr. Green cited an American Zoo and Aquarium Association (AZA) newsletter noting that surplus zoo animals are bought legally by circuses, breeders, dealers, or exhibitors. In turn, the new owners display, trade, auction, or often breed the animals for quick sales to private owners.

Some zoos try to minimize the flow of animals into unknown hands, but because of a lack of local enforcement and sheer numbers, animals often disappear despite the best intentions of officials.

"I've been here at the Minnesota zoo for 16 years," says Ronald Tilson, director of conservation at the zoo, and coordinator of the AZA's Tiger Species Survival Plan, "and we never placed an animal unless we had someone from our facility inspect the site.... We do surplus our tigers and for the most part I think [they] stay with zoos until they die. I can't say for sure that no tigers from AZA's Species Survival Plan have never shown up at a roadside facility. Once we surplus an animal I am not obligated to follow it."

Many lions and tigers, as well as bears or primates, end up in roadside zoos, or pseudo sanctuaries that exploit the animals in the name of the Endangered Species Act. Some are sold in animal auctions. Others are killed in clandestine "canned" (or fixed) hunts offered for thousands of dollars by hunting ranches even though many states have banned such hunts.

As cuddly cubs, tigers and lions first attract paying crowds at the best of zoos. Because few states forbid private ownership of big cats, breeders know that furry cubs can easily charm private buyers, too. Prices for tigers range from $700 to $5,500, and can be bought in some states from breeders licensed by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).

But many new owners misjudge the level of care and safety needed for an exotic wild animal that grows to weigh 450 pounds or more. As the cats become older, many go from owner to owner in a downward cycle of misery. Local authorities often have to intervene in severe cases with the help of the Humane Society, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), or other animal activist groups like People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). Sanctuaries, like Tiger Haven, will accept the unwanted animal, or rarely, an abused animal can be euthanized at a veterinarian's recommendation.

Jennifer O'Conner, a cruelty caseworker with PETA, say she had 400 requests last year from people wanting to find a place for their big cats. "Usually, they are embarrassed," she says, "because they didn' t fully realize that cute cubs become aggressive cats in two months. There aren't many places to put these animals."

Legitimate nonprofit sanctuaries are proving to be the safest and healthiest last resort for unwanted big cats. But some self-described sanctuaries, while improving animal living conditions, simply continue the exploitation. "They do a rescue," says Lynn Cuny, past president of The Association of Sanctuaries (TAOS), and director of Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation near San Antonio, Texas, "and they get publicity, donations, and credibility. The public is misinformed because they think a tiger in a 6 by 6 cage in Louisiana is not good, but an 8 by 8 cage in North Carolina is OK. And some of these operations breed and sell out the back door."

TAOS, founded in 1992, now has 36 accredited members adhering to strict rules, including no breeding or animals on commercial display. Animals are supposed to roam, roar, eat, and bask in the sun.

Recently, the USDA became so concerned about big cat abuse in the hands of untrained private owners that it publicly discouraged it. "I never thought they would take such a strong stance outside their regulatory role," says Ms. O'Conner. "There is not one reason for any private citizen to keep one of these animals as a pet."

Breeders and owners disagree, arguing that the issues are hardly black and white. Cynthia Carper, a licensed big-cat breeder in southern Ohio, says, "Cats aren't making it in the wild. Countries that are having trouble putting food in the bellies of their people aren't interested in saving tigers. I'd rather my future grandchildren be able to say, "I actually saw a tiger here," and not have go to a book to see a picture of one, like a carrier pigeon."

Such rationale sends animal activists into orbit. "This creates a situation where you are breeding wild animals with the purpose of putting them into the hands of the public," says Ms. Cuny. "When a cub is sold by a breeder, she can control who it is sold to, but she does not control what happens to the animal." Despite what some breeders insist, lions and tigers circulating in the US pet trade are not endangered species caught in the same dilemma as the dwindling numbers in Asia and Africa. In the captive world, inbreeding occurs. Lack of managed care, especially genetic management, has clouded the lines of big cats as the numbers have risen.

But endangered or not, big cats are wild in temperament and habits, even though they are generations removed from jungles and savannahs. Standing near Bubba at Tiger Haven, Parker says he spends $6,000 a month on meat. "Tigers aren't like dogs in recognizing that we give them their food," he says. "All food belongs to the tiger. We just happen to have it at that moment of feeding. It belongs to them. What are we doing with it?"

Sanctuaries sometimes have to turn to unique ways to raise funds to stay ahead of operating and maintenance costs. For Tiger Haven, Parker operated a bingo parlor for 2 1/2 years, raising more than $2 million until the state ruled it illegal. In l989, he was a prosecution witness in a joint federal/state probe of alleged corruption of bingo in Tennessee. He was accused of skimming proceeds in an action unrelated to Tiger Haven.

"If you love your animals and are doing the best you can for them in a sanctuary, " says Richard Farinato, director of Captive Wildlife Protection of the Humane Society of the United States, "you keep yourself squeaky clean to not risk the animals you profess to love."

When this reporter visited Tiger Haven unannounced and toured the grounds at Parker's invitation, all the animals were clean, healthy, and for the most part kept in large enclosures. "We are not open to the public," he says. "We don't do performances, and we don't breed."

A stroll through Tiger Haven triggers an underlying question: Why do big cats generate such increasing legal and illegal activity? Parker thinks the US is "Disneyized" into believing "we can be comrades" with big cats.

Cuny thinks it's a case of a consumer society misunderstanding the natural world. "We are a society that lives for consumption and ownership, " she says. "And with nature, in the strangest way, we want it in our backyard, but not out of respect. So people say, 'look at this tiger.' It's incredible. I've got to have one, like a new Mercedes. Our culture tells us to own everything, including tigers."



San Antonio Express-News
By Lisa Sandberg
04/13/2003
Exotic pets out of control

Though heartbroken by the fatal shooting of a 400-pound African lioness last week, Carol Asvestas of the Wild Animal Orphanage has no doubt she soon will be beseeched to rescue yet another abandoned lion, tiger or bear — adding to the 600 wild animals she already has.



African lionesses like Hannah may be rare in the wild, but in captivity they are as plentiful as cotton-tailed bunnies.

And each year in Texas, hundreds of dangerous wild animals, many former "pets," end up at the doorsteps of animal sanctuaries. Some are abandoned by drug dealers, others are tossed out by nervous parents who suddenly realize their tiger cub isn't as cuddly as he once was.

"Breeders tell you that if you raise them from tiny babies, they will stay (docile) and litter-trained," Asvestas said. "By eight months, they start tearing up furniture, so they get relegated to a cage in the back yard. When something goes wrong, they call the Wild Animal Orphanage."

An 18-month-old Texas law that was supposed to regulate the booming "backyard wild pet" trade has been largely ignored, animal welfare advocates say.

Much of the problem, they said, lies with the counties, which have essentially turned their backs on the 2001 law requiring them to either regulate or prohibit the ownership of wild animals.

"The counties have been very slow in setting up their ordinances, and many that have ordinances are not enforcing them," said Skip Trimble, a Dallas lawyer who worked with the Texas Humane Legislation Network to pass the state's Dangerous Wild Animal Act. "The counties have turned a deaf ear and a blind eye."

The Department of Health has paperwork on only 101 wild captive animals in the state. The American Zoo and Aquarium Association estimates there are between 4,000 and 5,000 "pet" tigers alone in Texas.

"The numbers are just staggering," said Cindy Carroccio, director of the Austin Zoo, a sanctuary for 300 rescued animals. "There's almost nothing stopping Mr. Joe Breeder from selling a wild cat to a man in downtown Dallas. You can buy a cub tiger for $75 over the Internet.

"If I built an enclosure a day, I would fill it," Carroccio added. "We average 60 to 100 calls a month; 70 to 80 percent of those are from private owners."

According to Trimble's group, of Texas' 254 counties, 27 allow anyone to own a wild animal as long as it is registered; 39 counties, including Bexar, prohibit ownership except under limited circumstances; and 15 have failed to either prohibit or ban the practice. Another 173 counties have banned wild pets entirely, Trimble said, but many of those have done nothing to enforce the measure.

Where Bexar County stands in all this is unclear. The county adopted a middle-of-the-road approach, opting to ban most dangerous animals but exempting those, for example, that travel in circuses and others in sanctuaries, research labs or under the care of a veterinarian.

Officials at the Bexar County Sheriff's Office, which is charged with enforcing the county's ban, said they haven't confiscated any dangerous animals since the law went into effect because they haven't received any reports of dangerous animals kept in captivity.

"I don't know of any seizures of any exotic animals in recent years," Capt. Kenneth Bilhartz said, acknowledging that authorities often learn about exotic pets when one escapes, is injured or someone complains.

When Asvestas and her husband, Ron, began rescuing animals in the early 1980s, they didn't have to worry about big cats. Backyard wild animals had not become fashionable. But by the early 1990s, the wild pet problem "exploded," she said. "Cougars were the rage then, followed by lions and tigers. Then, about three years ago, it was bears. Nothing but bears."

Now, bobcats, Bengali tigers, baboons, pigtail macaques and Russian grizzly bears are among the 600 exotics housed in enclosures of up to two acres on two tracts of land totaling 112 acres.

Desperate pet owners account for about half the calls Asvestas receives. Breeders and roadside zoos make up most of the rest.

"There are people who believe that they're saving an endangered species," she said. "They don't understand that the ones born in captivity can't replace the ones in the wild."

Now facing overcrowding at the orphanage, Asvestas has begun turning animals away.

http://www.moscowtimes.ru/doc/HotNews.html#38176
Moscow Times Interfax
Sunday, Apr. 27, 2003

Both runaway lions shot in travelling circus outside Moscow

MOSCOW. April 27 (Interfax) - The two lions who on Sunday broke out of their cage in the town of Sergiyev-Posad outside Moscow were shot.

Interfax earlier reported that two lions escaped from their cage when the trainer of a travelling circus based in Sergiyev Posad entered the cage to feed the animals.

The lions tore the trainer to death.

The second trainer dialed 02 on his cell phone to call the police, forgetting that it was the number of the Moscow police. Erroneously, a police squad was sent to the Moscow zoo which was peacefully beginning the day.

The policemen who after all arrived at the scene of the incident shot the lion who had already torn the trainer to death, a resident of the Kirov region.

The second lion was surrounded on a stadium where the circus was based. Policemen spent about an hour trying to push the aggressive animal back into the cage, but had to shoot him after their attempts to tame him failed.
The Moscow regional police reported that both trainers were drunk.

The police are currently examining the circus's registration documents.

It is not the first incident of this kind in the Moscow region. In spring, 2002, a lion escaped from his cage in the Odintsovsky district outside Moscow and attacked a girl. The girl suffered injuries but survived.

http://www.pe.com/localnews/riverside/stories/PE_NEWS_nrtiger25.f4a3.html
Easy to buy but difficult to keep
04/25/2003
By MICHAEL FISHER
THE PRESS-ENTERPRISE

Buying a baby tiger is a fairly easy process, and in many cases the cuddly cubs cost less than a purebred puppy, according to wildlife advocates.

The low cost -- typically $400 to $700 -- inconsistent government oversight and myriad under-the-table sales by unscrupulous breeders have combined to create a booming exotic-animal industry that some advocates say is streaking toward tragedy.

"In the not-too-distant future, the dominoes will start to fall into place and big cats -- tigers -- are going to have to be euthanized for lack of a place to put them," said Cindy Carroccio, director of Austin Zoo, a nonprofit animal sanctuary in Texas.

Concerns about the tiger trade sprang to the forefront this week when state authorities raided a Glen Avon home and found the carcasses of 30 tigers and other big cats, as well as 58 dead cubs.

No one is sure how many privately owned tigers are in the United States because the animals are not well monitored by authorities, said Alan Green, author of the 1999 book "Animal Underworld: Inside America's Black Market for Rare and Exotic Species."

Estimates vary widely, with some saying as many as 33,000 tigers are padding around backyard pens and roadside zoos across the nation, surpassing the number of tigers estimated to be in their natural habitat in Asia.

Owners often unprepared

While buying and selling the cubs is legal, owners often find themselves overwhelmed as the animals mature, Green said.
As cubs, the tigers are cute furballs of streaked orange fur, their large blue or brown eyes flashing innocence and playfulness. But as the tigers grow, buyers typically don't know how to properly care for the powerful cats and are unprepared for the increasing responsibility and cost, Green said.

"You are throwing a huge animal into a situation that almost assures that it will be doomed in some way, that it will be malnourished or sick," Green said.

Adult tigers eat 10 to 15 pounds of meat daily, at a cost of up $100 per day. The big cats often end up locked in undersized cages, where they are neglected by owners who fear letting them out to clean the pen.

The cubs are not hard to buy from breeders who sell young tigers through magazine ads, auctions or the Internet.
Part of the problem, Green said, is the hodgepodge of federal and state laws that govern exotic animals.

"There's a vast network of laws so no one quite knows who's policing these things," Green said.
Different laws, or none at all

The U.S. Department of Agriculture enforces animal-welfare laws involving licensed dealers, exhibitors or transporters, but not private owners, Green said. While some states have stringent laws, others have no regulations, leaving the oversight to local animal-control officers.

California's Department of Fish and Game requires a permit to import, transport or possess a variety of restricted animals, including such exotics as elephants, Gila monsters, zebras and tigers.

There are 285 such permits on file statewide, the agency reported Thursday.

Mike McBride, assistant chief of the department's Chino Hills office, said his agency is overwhelmed, tasked with everything from overseeing exotic animals to protecting wetlands, policing marine fisheries and combating poaching and pollution.

"To try to take a natural-resource agency and say we are going to absolutely be able to put a cap on the exotic species trade . . . that's asking the impossible," McBride said. "Exotic animals were an additional duty assigned to Fish and Game. We combat it at the level that we can."

Overcrowded sanctuaries

A red flag, Carroccio said, is when a sanctuary has a large number of cubs, a sign that a breeding program may also be operating there.

"Sanctuaries do not breed. It would be like the city pound going into the puppy-mill business. It's not logical," said Carroccio, whose 100-acre zoo is home to 10 rescued lions and tigers.

As a growing number of owners try to rid themselves of grown tigers in poor health, most sanctuaries are bursting at the seams, Green said.

"It's a system of sanctuaries that relies on good Samaritans to clean up the mess of greedy breeders and pet owners. Every day there is a mad scramble by people looking for homes for big cats," Green said.

Zoos will not accept privately owned tigers because they are usually cross-bred, he explained.

Carroccio said it may not be long before inundated sanctuaries nationwide start rejecting rescued big cats. That could lead to a sobering development: authorities forced to euthanize rescued tigers.

http://www.dailynews.com/Stories/0,1413,200~20954~1338058,00.html
Article Published: Saturday, April 19, 2003 - 9:19:21 PM PST
Advocates disagree on care for big cats
By Patricia Farrell Aidem
Staff Writer

ACTON -- Actress Tippi Hedren keeps 60 exotic cats -- lions, tigers and more -- at a jungle-like preserve in Acton, but would like nothing better than to go out of business.

Most of the felines, many of them once abused, were owned by people who wanted unusual pets but later learned they could not handle wild animals around the home, said Gary Lee, a legislative assistant to Hedren, whose Roar Foundation operates the Shambala preserve.

"She would love it if we got to the point where we were out of business, where it was illegal for people to keep big cats as pets," Lee said.

Now Hedren is pushing federal legislation to discourage such private ownership of exotic cats, but is meeting some resistance from animal lovers around the nation.

Hedren is behind the bipartisan Captive Wildlife Safety Act before Congress, which would prohibit interstate sales of lions, tigers, cougars, leopards, cheetahs and bears to private parties. Accredited zoos, sanctuaries, circuses and federally licensed operations would be exempt.

"There are a ridiculous number of people who keep wild animals as pets," Hedren said.

Asked where people find their pets, she said the Internet and classified ads were a common source.

"There need to be rules and regulations. People need to have appropriate habitat and knowledge, they need to be outside city limits for security and they need to have adequate veterinary care. Not all vets are big animal vets," she said.

"This legislation will stop the eventual movement of animals abandoned when their owners can no longer take care of them," Hedren said, adding that the 50 sanctuaries operating now are full and resources are limited. "Our worst nightmare is wondering where would we put them?"

Thousands of miles away, in a small Montana town near the Canadian border, Susan McGee keeps two wolves and a lynx as pets. They are her "children," she says, and she resents a Hollywood movie star trying to tell her what pets she can keep.

"I, for one, am not going to let you take away my right to keep my family together without a huge fight," McGee wrote Hedren.

McGee said in a telephone interview that she was well trained to care for wild animals, having worked in a sanctuary and in animal shelters. People who want to own wild animals should be allowed to do so without the government -- or an actress -- butting in.

"I don't see how she can police everyone when she doesn't know what's going on in every state. She can't do a blanket statement that covers all of us," McGee said. "Of all people, she should understand how they become your family members."

Formally opposing the bill as it winds its way through the committee process in Washington, D.C., are the Phoenix Wildlife Association, a group of exotic animal owners, and the Ohio Animal Association, said Wayne Pacelle of the Humane Society of the United States, who has been working with Shambala.

U.S. Rep. Howard "Buck" McKeon, R-Santa Clarita, introduced the bill in Congress, and Sens. Jim Jeffords, I-Vt., Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and John Ensign, R-Nev., did so in the Senate. The bills face committee hearings, Pacelle said.

Unrelated to the federal legislation, Montana's Legislature is considering a bill that would further limit ownership of wild animals. That is part of the problem nationwide -- laws vary widely from state to state, Lee said, but added that Hedren is not involved in the Montana bill.

Hedren, mother of actress Melanie Griffith, gave her most memorable performance in Alfred Hitchcock's "The Birds." But it was a 1981 movie titled "Roar" -- filmed over an 11-year period with her then-husband, producer Noel Marshall -- that drove her to establish her foundation and Shambala, Lee said. The Soledad Canyon Road sanctuary was a set for the film, and more than a decade later was incorporated as a preserve.

Hedren said that sanctuaries afford the animals a chance to live out their days naturally, and that Shambala makes a 20-year commitment to each animal it accepts. There is no breeding, selling, buying or trading allowed. And the need for these sanctuaries is constant, evidenced by a stack of phone messages she sorted through after a long weekend.

"Here's a message: someone needs a place to take nine tigers and three young lions," she said. "I don't know if they were able to find a place for them yet."

Aside from keeping wild animals out of the hands of those looking for exotic pets, Hedren is hoping the wildlife bill will bring and end to "canned" hunting. Illegal in California but allowed in some states, including Montana and Texas, canned hunting occurs when business owners fence in wild animals then allow "hunters" to gun them down, Lee said. On this point, Hedren and McGee agree.

"I really despise that -- I look at it that, if you're a skilled hunter, you shouldn't have to pay to do that. It's so one-sided. But that has nothing to do with these laws.

"They're trying to stop people from owning these animals and that's not right," McGee said. "From my point of view, I want to have something different from a cat, dog or horse."

That philosophy is another target of the bill, Lee said. Even the best trained animal handlers face danger because that is the nature of the beast. He and Pacelle said two trained handlers were killed in recent weeks -- one in Oklahoma and one in Illinois -- working with tigers.

"It's an issue of safety and one of protecting wild animals," Lee said.

http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/local/southflorida/sfl-424deadtigers,0,2731040.story?coll=sfla-home-headlines

90 tigers found dead at animal rescuer's home

Sick animals, hides also discovered.
By Akilah Johnson & Steve Hymon
Los Angeles Times
Posted April 24 2003, 11:54 AM EDT

GLEN AVON, Calif. -- More than 90 dead tigers, including 58 cubs stuffed into freezers, were discovered at the Riverside County home of a noted animal rescuer by authorities who also uncovered a menagerie of malnourished animals roaming the property.

Officials who carried out the Tuesday morning raid were looking for a single juvenile tiger. Instead, they came across 11 tiger and leopard cubs crawling around the home's attic, two small alligators swimming in the bathtub and two hungry tigers on the porch. Behind a gate in the yard, authorities said, they found 30 dead adult tigers, some with their legs tied together.


"The worst of it was that everywhere you went on the property, there were dead animals," said Chuck Traisi, who took the live animals to his rescue facility in San Diego County. "Everyone was in a state of disbelief. There were cats that had long been dead and in various states of decay strewn everywhere."

A pickup truck in the yard was filled with animal skins, said Ralph Rivers, a spokesman for the Riverside County Animal Services Department.

Sheriff's deputies arrested John Weinhart, 60, who runs a well-known animal sanctuary called Tiger Rescue in nearby Colton. But authorities said they are baffled about why Weinhart kept the dead animals.

The Tiger Rescue facility serves as a home for tigers retired from the circus and entertainment industry and has long been a popular weekend destination for families who for a small fee can see the felines.

But in November, the state Department of Fish and Game raided the Tiger Rescue headquarters. San Bernardino County prosecutors charged Weinhart with unlawful public display of tigers, breeding animals without a permit, failure to clean animal cages, and supplying the animals with insufficient food and water. He pleaded not guilty to those charges and will face trial in late May.

The latest raid occurred a few miles away at Weinhart's home near the community of Glen Avon. Also arrested Tuesday was Weinhart's friend Marla Smith. Both were charged with one count of child endangerment because the couple's 8-year-old son lived among the animals, said Paul Dickerson, a Riverside County deputy district attorney. The boy was turned over to the county's social services department.

Prosecutors said they are deciding what charges involving the animals might be appropriate.

Wendelin Rae Ringel, a veterinarian who worked for Weinhart, also was arrested and charged with animal cruelty.

Steve Jeffries, a spokesman for Tiger Rescue, strongly denied that Weinhart or the other suspects did anything to harm the animals.

The live cubs were placed at Weinhart's five-acre property because they required hand-feeding every four hours, Jeffries said, adding that the alligators were personal pets.

He said the couple's child wasn't in danger. "I've known that kid since he was in diapers and he's always seemed healthy to me," Jeffries said. "I have a 4-year-old daughter and my daughter has been around the [cubs] since she was basically born."

Jeffries also disputed allegations by authorities that they discovered 100 dead animals at Weinhart's home. He said that there were well fewer than 30 corpses, and that most of the animals had been dead for at least five years. He said he did not know why the dead animals were on the property or how they got there.

When asked about the 58 dead cubs in freezers, Jeffries replied: "We keep them for research reasons."

Weinhart has operated his rescue operation for 30 years. Tiger Rescue started at his Glen Avon home, but a zoning change in the 1990s barred him from keeping tigers there, and the sanctuary was moved to Colton. Keeping a wild animal requires a permit from the state Department of Fish and Game, and local zoning must allow it.

Weinhart's home is surrounded by a tall chain-link and plywood fence and backs up to a drainage ditch. A large stucco archway stands at the entrance and is topped by iron figurines of lions. The smell of feces was strong outside the home Wednesday, where several junked cars sat.

Officials said they were still trying to determine why so many dead animals were on the property.

"We may or may not end up with a conclusion about these things," said Mike McBride, assistant chief at the state Department of Fish and Game.

Authorities said they raided Weinhart's home in search of a single tiger that they could not locate during earlier searches of the Tiger Rescue facility. They had received an anonymous tip that the tiger was at his house.

Tippi Hedren, the former movie actress who runs a wildlife sanctuary in Acton, said she visited Tiger Rescue a few years ago when it was still in Glen Avon. She said she was "disgusted" by its filthy conditions. The animals lived in their own waste, she said, and did not have enough to drink because the only water was in upside-down trash lids. Hedren said she called the U.S. Department of Agriculture to complain but does not know whether any action was taken.

"I wish I could get inside his head," Hedren said. "In my wildest imagination I cannot understand how anyone could do this."

The average tiger has four to six cubs per litter, said Dr. Jennifer Conrad, an exotic-animal veterinarian. "Unless [the deaths happened] over the last 15 years ... 58 is a huge number of animals, especially cubs," she said.

A contagious virus, such as canine distemper, could spread through a facility and cause such a high number of deaths, Conrad said.

Wayne Pacelle, vice president of the Humane Society of the United States, said there has been an increase in the number of tigers being raised for the exotic pet trade under the guise of a rescue facility.

"We call them pseudo-sanctuaries," he said. "They're primarily engaged in commercial activities while passing themselves off as a nonprofit."

Neighbors in Glen Avon said Wednesday that they had come to accept Weinhart's compound as part of the community.

Josephine Franco-Mercado, 51, who has lived next door to Weinhart since 1987, said her daughter tape-recorded the tigers snoring before leaving for college in case she missed home.

http://www.dailybulletin.com/Stories/0,1413,203~21481~1349030,00.html
Tiger rescuer under federal scrutiny
Thursday, April 24, 2003
By EMILY SACHS and
CHRIS T. NGUYEN
STAFF WRITERS

An animal rescuer arrested Tuesday for keeping 88 dead tigers at his Glen Avon home is also under federal investigation for violating animal welfare laws at his Colton sanctuary.

Tiger Rescue owner John Weinhart has been under scrutiny for some time, said U.S. Department of Agriculture spokesman Jim Rogers.

Federal investigators were at the Agua Mansa Road sanctuary in November when 10 tiger cubs were seized by the state, said California Fish and Game officials.

Next month, Weinhart is scheduled to stand trial in San Bernardino Superior Court on multiple charges of improper animal care, including poor record-keeping and not meeting requirements for the animals' housing.

Based on a separate tip to Fish and Game officials, Weinhart, 60, Marla Smith, 47, and veterinarian Wendelin Ringel, 40, were arrested Tuesday during a raid at Weinhart's and Smith's home.

Investigators found carcasses of 30 tigers on the property and 58 dead cubs in freezers at the home in the 9400 block of Bellegrave Avenue in Glen Avon in Riverside County.

Weinhart has a long history with exotic animals, operating two exotic pet shops in Inglewood in the 1960s as well as renting out animals for film and television productions.

As he got more clients, his collection of animals grew and the pet shops ran out of space for sheltering the animals.

Tiger Rescue opened in 1972 at the Glen Avon property as a retirement sanctuary for tigers used in show business. In 1975, Weinhart was charged with eight misdemeanor counts of improperly caring for exotic animals, all of which were later dismissed.

After being ordered out of Riverside County for violating zoning laws, the sanctuary moved to Colton in 1999.

"We have monitored the business there with our animal control officer on occasion," said Colton police Lt. Bob Miller, who added that few complaints have been received from residents and neighbors.

Last year neighbors went to the police after seeing malnourished horses on the property. Weinhart said at the time that they were elderly horses donated by farms to be fed to the tigers.

Weinhart's problems were the hot topic of conversation this week among exotic animal enthusiasts, said Chemaine Almquist, who co-owns Forever Wild Exotic Animal Sanctuary in Phelan with her husband Joel.

Since opening their sanctuary eight years ago, they have avoided Weinhart and his requests for cubs, she said.

She said she couldn't understand how an on-site veterinarian could have allowed so many animals to die under her care. In comparison, Almquist said, her sanctuary has only lost two tiger cubs since opening.

Weinhart's assistant and close friend, Steve Jeffries, said Fish and Game officials greatly exaggerated the number of tiger remains found in Glen Avon.

He said Weinhart did store dead cubs in the freezer for research, but they died of natural causes. They were stillborn or died shortly after birth, he said.

"This man has a love for these animals that is inhuman," Jeffries said.

Neighbors of Weinhart's Glen Avon home, which has a tall iron gate around it decorated with lion emblems, and friends say Weinhart is friendly but extremely protective of his animals. He's a pack rat, they say, and never sells or gives away any of his animals.

Weinhart's Glen Avon neighbor Gilda Gallegos, 46, said she's smelled a strong odor since she moved in in 1987.

"I would think dead animals," she described the smell. "That went on for years and years."

Another neighbor, Raquel Guzman, 42, said that years ago Weinhart threatened harm after her son Andrew and his friends peeked over the fence at his animals.

"He didn't want anyone messing with him, bothering his animals," Guzman said.

Tiger Rescue volunteer Jon Oehler, 24, of Yucaipa, said he has the highest respect for Weinhart and Smith.

"They love these animals more than anyone knows, and no one knows what it takes to take care of these animals," said Oehler, who has volunteered there for two years. "No animals here were ever mistreated or neglected."

Almquist said sanctuaries are overseen by both state Fish and Game and the USDA, both of which annually inspect her property and make surprise visits.

On her last inspection, the state cited her for a puddle of water in a cage, which she fixed immediately.

"If I'm getting popped for minor things like that, what the hell happened over there?" she said.

Michael McBride, assistant chief of enforcement for Fish and Game, said his agency would never have inspected the Glen Avon site were it not for a recent tip.

It took additional time to get a search warrant to enter the property, he said.

Additionally, laws have changed in recent years, giving his agency more authority over inspections, which may have led to the November visit to the Colton sanctuary.

Said the USDA's Rogers: "The license isn't necessarily a seal of approval. It only says they met the conditions to receive a license."

The problem, Almquist said, is there are too many tiger breeders. Cubs can be bought around the county for as little as $250 less than the cost of a purebred cat. In most states, the animals are unregulated and can be kept without a permit.

Sanctuaries exist, Almquist said, because many people can't care for the animals. She rescues tigers which are physically abused, drug abused, starved or overfed.

"These are not toys. These are dangerous wild animals," said Richard Farinato, who directs the captive wildlife protection program for Humane Society of the United States near Washington, D.C..

Farinato said there are as many as 10,000 privately held tigers in the United States.

"So many times you see people claiming to be a rescuer and a sanctuary and they're anything but," he said. "In many cases they're well-meaning people and they get in over their head."

Animal rescue is a very difficult business and no one should enter it hoping to make money, Almquist said. She and her husband have filed bankruptcy twice and missed house payments, all to care for the animals.

"I hope this guy pays because there's no reason these animals had to be treated the way they were," Almquist said. "They were given to him for protection and safety and well being and obviously he wasn't providing that."

http://www.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,4057,6329719%255E13762,00.html
Circus tiger eats man's arm
From correspondents in Madrid
April 24, 2003

A CIRCUS tiger has bitten off the arm of a man who wandered onto the show's grounds in Spain.

The man had apparently approached or reached into the animal's cage, officials said.

The Italian-owned International Circus had been preparing for its opening performance in Colmenar Viejo, outside Madrid, at the time.

The victim was a 28-year-old Ukrainian, whose name was not given.

There were no eyewitnesses to the attack, but it was believed the man either got close enough to the cage for one of the eight tigers inside to claw him or he reached into it, said Luis Serrano, a spokesman for the emergency medical crew that treated him.

The tiger bit off the man's right arm above the elbow and ate it and caused serious damage to the left arm.

The man's life was not in danger, Serrano said.

http://www.augustachronicle.com/stories/070103/met_201-7805.000.shtml

Tiger's owner remains in jail
Web posted Monday, June 30, 2003
By Sara Bancroft | South Carolina Bureau
AIKEN - A Salley, S.C., woman remained in the Aiken County Detention Center on Monday, charged with neglecting to register a dangerous animal with Aiken County Animal Control.

Melanie Szegedi, 44, of the 6000 block of Wagener Road, was given 18 days by Aiken County Animal Control to produce the correct paperwork proving she had liability insurance coverage for at least $50,000 on her young Bengal and Siberian mixed tiger. She kept the animal in her home and backyard surrounded by a flimsy fence, said Animal Control Director Shirley Harden.

On Friday, Ms. Szegedi was sentenced by a Wagener magistrate to a $440 fine or 30 days in jail, Mrs. Harden said. Unable to pay the fine, Ms. Szegedi was put behind bars.

The woman's neighbors said her boyfriend is supposed to be taking care of the tiger and at least 30 dogs.

"I'm not really worried," said Tommy Cook, 49, Ms. Szegedi's next-door neighbor. "She can have what she wants, but if (the tiger) comes in my yard and attacks one of my family members, he's mine."

Ms. Szegedi had been arrested so many times in Columbiana County, Ohio, for probation violations and charges of passing bad checks that office workers and sheriff's deputies there knew her by name. But Lt. Allen Haueter, of the Columbiana County Sheriff's Office, said extraditing Ms. Szegedi to Ohio for an outstanding warrant for a probation violation isn't worth the trouble or the cost.

Ms. Szegedi's release from Aiken County's jail won't be the end of the tiger tale.

"When she gets out, if she still can't get the insurance on it, we'll turn right around and charge her again," Mrs. Harden said. And this time, the tiger, which will weigh 700 pounds when it's fully grown, will be seized.

It is legal in South Carolina to own exotic animals, and their popularity is rising. There are at least two dangerous exotic animals in Aiken County that Animal Control is aware of - Ms. Szegedi's tiger and a cougar kept outside a home in Windsor. The cougar's owner paid a premium of $1,800 with a deductible of about $3,500 for insurance, she said.

"This thing is getting bigger and bigger and bigger," Mrs. Harden said. "Someone is going to get hurt. It's going to take someone getting killed by one of them before our legislators do something."

Twelve states have laws banning exotic animals, she said.

http://www.thedenverchannel.com/news/2302621/detail.html
Man Critically Injured In Tiger Attack
Unidentified Victim Was Tending Tigers At Calhan Compound

POSTED: 12:04 p.m. MDT June 30, 2003

CALHAN, Colo. -- A 32-year-old Colorado Springs man was reported in critical condition Sunday after tigers attacked him at a wildlife refuge in El Paso County.

El Paso County sheriff's officials say the employee of Big Cats of Serenity Springs, near Calhan, was in the cage tending to the tigers when he was mauled Sunday.

The El Paso County Sheriff's Office was not called to the scene. The incident was handled by local firefighters who did not return calls regarding the attack.

The man's name has not been released.

Big Cats has more than 60 animals, according to its Web site, including tigers, lions, cougars, leopards, and lynx.

http://www.charlotte.com/mld/observer/news/local/10607415.htm?1c
Posted on Mon, Jan. 10, 2005
Young tiger siblings captured in region
Animals found in Gaston, Cleveland counties; owner sought
TYRONE RICHARDSON

Animal-control and law-enforcement officers are looking for housing options and the owner of two tigers captured this weekend while roaming Gaston and Cleveland counties.

Motorists spotted the two female tigers wandering around 10 p.m. Saturday. Officials said they are young, 100-pound siblings.

Sheriff's and animal-control officers from both counties searched for about an hour before locating one along the 2900 block of County Line Road. Authorities could not provide an address of where they captured the other tiger.

The sisters were being held at separate animal-control facilities -- isolated from other animals -- because they were captured in different counties. Officials said the tigers were in good condition, only suffering a few cuts and scratches on their ears and noses.

Nobody was reported injured by the tigers.

Animal-control officers called a veterinarian to get advice on how to care for the animals, particularly their diet.

"Before we called in the veterinarian, we got the (tiger) a few hot dogs," said Sam Lockridge III, coordinator of health services for Cleveland County. "We talked to the vet and used another type of meat."

In zoos, tigers eat commercially prepared meat -- about four pounds per day -- and occasional bones to keep their teeth healthy, said Lorraine Smith, curator of mammals at the N.C. Zoo in Asheboro.

Authorities are investigating the incident and searching for the owner of the tigers. As of Sunday night, nobody had claimed them.

"We'd like the owner of the animals to come forward," Lockridge said.

"The animals are very tame and appear to be raised around people."

Tigers are not allowed in Cleveland and Gaston counties under their wild and exotic animal ordinances.

Reggie Horton, Gaston County Animal Control director, said those who owned an exotic animal before the ordinance was passed in the mid-1990s are allowed to keep the animal, but must register it with the county. Horton said his staff does not have any registered tigers on file.

If found with an illegal exotic animal, the owner could face civil or criminal fines and penalties, he said.

"We've seen a gamut, but as far as my recollection, these are the first tigers that I'm aware of," Horton said.

The N.C. Zoo does not house tigers.

"We can help them out with suggestions on food, but my guess is we won't be able to take them in unless it's a very temporary situation," said Rod Hackney, a spokesman for the N.C. Zoo.

"We don't have tigers. Our lions would not get along well with tigers."

http://springfield.news-leader.com/news/today/0123-Tigerlefti-286047.html
Published January 23, 2005

Tiger left in woods by owner finds way home
The big cat, which was born at a Lampe farm, has since been turned over to animal refuge.

By: Scott Smith, the Associated Press

By Ranier Sabin
Associated Press

Little Rock — India the Bengal tiger, raised as a pet, knew what to do when she was abandoned along the Buffalo River in north-central Arkansas.

She trekked 60 miles through the woods and Ozark Mountains to the Harrison home of the man who had left her to fend on her own.

Now, the 400-pound tiger has her reward — a new home.

Mike Conner delivered the Bengal tiger to the Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge in Eureka Springs on Jan. 12, only five days after he set the animal free along the Buffalo River, said Scott Smith, who operates the refuge.

Conner's telephone numbers were out of service earlier this week, but Smith said the tiger, which was born July 1, 2003, on a Lampe, Mo., farm that breeds Bengals, trekked 60 miles before she eventually made her way back to Conner's residence after spending four days on her own.

Conner, who had owned the animal since it was 3 months old, then decided to drive the tiger to Turpentine Creek, Smith said.

"I've worked in 26 different states. I thought I have heard every story possible. But this one threw me for a loop," Smith said.

The tiger has been quarantined as tests and vaccinations are being administered for the next three to four weeks. But Smith said the animal has adjusted to her new environment.

"She is doing fine," he said.

Beverly McClintock, a veterinarian in Western Grove, treated the tiger for an abscessed tooth when Conner owned her. She said Conner wrestled with the tiger and was playful with the animal during the appointment. But McClintock, who also owns a tiger, said taking care of an animal from the wild was not easy.

Smith said Conner believed that the tiger was becoming increasingly irritable when he decided to abandon her near Erby.

"He thought he was doing a favor by setting it free," Smith said.

http://www.wiscnews.com/bnr/news/index.php?ntid=25642&ntpid=2
Lion cub bites child

Baraboo police have ordered a lion cub's owner to quarantine the animal after it caused a minor injury to a young child.

On Thursday evening an 8-year-old girl was visiting the Creature Features pet store, 715 Broadway Street, said Capt. Craig Olsen of the Baraboo Police Department. A lion cub also at the store bit her, he said.

"It just broke the skin," he said. "It was a very minor injury."

Because the incident involved a lion, the incident is notable, Olsen said. But it was handled in the normal manner and the owner was instructed to quarantine the lion cub.

Animal bites of any kind should always be treated with some caution even when the injury caused is small, he said.

According to the Sauk County Public Health Department, an animal which bites a person must be quarantined for at least 10 days and checked by a veterinarian for signs of rabies.

Additional information such as the owner of the cub was not available Friday evening.