What will happen to Norman Buwalda's tiger?
January 12, 11:37 AM
Toronto Animal Rights Examiner Anita Robeson
On January 10, 2010, a Siberian tiger attacked and killed its owner, Norman Buwalda, a 66-year-old man from Southwold, Ontario.
According to the World Society for the Protection of Animals Canada (WSPA), located on Eglinton Avenue in Toronto, "an estimated 500 exotic cats are kept as pets in the province."
WSPA's programs officer, Melissa Matlow, says, "Keeping a tiger on your property should be considered as dangerous as keeping a loaded gun, and yet no agency is inspecting zoos and private animal collections to ensure they are safe."
In light of Buwalda's death, WSPA is "calling on the Ontario government to implement licensing to prevent future deaths and injuries."
In 2004, some of Buwalda's neighbours were so concerned for their safety, they managed to have a bylaw passed banning local residents from owning exotic animals. But Buwalda fought the law and had it overturned after a two-year court battle.
That same year, a 10-year-old boy was attacked by one of Buwalda's tigers while attempting to take its picture. The child suffered injuries to his head and neck, but survived.
At one time Buwalda kept five wild cats on his property, including a lion and a cougar.
According to nationalgeographic.com, tigers in the wild live alone and "aggressively scent-mark large territories to keep their rivals away." Tigers naturally avoid humans, so those that do attack "are often sick and unable to hunt normally, or live in areas where their traditional prey has vanished"—like, say, a cage in your backyard.
The tiger's fate is now in the hands of Southwold township officials.
Let's hope it isn't punished for doing what its natural instincts compelled it to do.