Big Cat Attacks, Maulings and Escapes in 2008
December 26, 2008 Mexico City, Mexico: Lions and tigers were confiscated during drug raid. A gardener detained along with more than a dozen members of an alleged drug trafficking ring testified that police threatened him to feed him to lions and tigers during a raid at a Mexico City mansion. The gardener, Fernando Maya, testified that police dragged him to cages with lions and tigers and threatened to throw him inside. "They kept saying, where is he? And that they were going to throw me to the lions, they were going to throw me to the tigers, which had not eaten." Eleven Colombians, a U.S. citizen, two Mexicans an Uruguayan were detained in the raid. Prosecutors said the gang allegedly arranged for cocaine shipments from Colombia to Mexico's Beltran Levya cartel.
December 9, 2008 Albion, IN: Noble County 911 Director Mitch Fiandt said an18-year-old female tiger escaped from the Black Pine Animal Park. Park officials say the tiger returned to the property 8 hours later and was back in its enclosure about an hour after that. An Albion firefighter alerted authorities after spotting the tiger on his property. Authorities shot the tiger with a tranquilizer, but were not immediately able to capture it.
December 8, 2008 Hamilton TWP, NJ: Santa Claus bit by pet bobcat in Petsmart. Scratches and bites cover the hand and arm of Jonathan Bebbington, after being mauled by a pet bobcat who was brought to Petsmart for a photo session. Bebbington says, "It hurt, it had a lot of power in its jaws." He struggled to control the cat for nearly 5 minutes while it bit him repeatedly. "He locked on here, grabbed the skin," he says as he points to his left hand. The cat's owner left after the incident without providing her name, though she did tell volunteers with Penny Angel's Beagle Rescue, which ran the event, that she had it shipped from Wyoming for $1,500. It is illegal to own a bobcat in New Jersey and allegedly this owner was keeping hers tethered in yard. There have been other cases of bobcats in South Jersey, including Mr. Peepers at the Cape May County Park Zoo, which was rescued from Bridgeton. Anyone with information about the bobcat or its owner should call the Atlantic County Division of Public Health at (609) 645 5931.
December 6, 2008 Wisconsin Dells, WI: Alan Borud was greeted by a 50 lb Siberian Lynx in his yard. Borud watched as the cat came up on the porch, stood on its hind legs, at which point it was about chest high to Borud, and looked in the window. He called DNR who took the cat to a local humane society. Big Cat Rescue called the authorities and offered a home to the cat, but Derick Duane of the McKenzie Wildlife Center said the owner was coming to retrieve her. They have had issues with this owner before, and have taken our name as a placement option if the owner cannot keep the Siberian Lynx contained. An anonymous tipster said the owner bought this cat and her mate in MO and then raised them as pets. When the cats reached about a year of age, the male began attacking the husband and son in the family and both the male and female were said to have been turned loose on purpose. No one has caught the male, and the owner denies that there ever was a male cat and denies that he turned this female loose.
December 1, 2008 Cass, WVa: Davide Cassell killed his pet tiger today said Hoy Murphy, spokesman for the state Division of Natural Resources. Murphy said the snowmaking crew at Snowshoe Mountain Resort saw the big cat on Monday morning. Cassell, who works at Mountain Lodge on Snowshoe Mountain, was trying to find the animal and tranquilize it, but ended up killing the cat instead. Cassell had a permit for the animal. In May 2006, an Asian brown bear owned by Cassell escaped and the 400-pound bear was not seen again.
November 27, 2008 Kansas City, KS: An exotic African cat (a Serval) roaming a Kansas City neighborhood has been shot and killed by police. Residents worried the cat was dangerous to children. But efforts to trap it over several weeks were unsuccessful, and an officer shot it Thursday with a patrol rifle. Police think the cat was dumped or had escaped from people who were keeping it as a pet. The identity of the owners is not known.
November 26, 2008 Harrisburg, PA: A Chester County farm caretaker says he thought he was shooting a bobcat in the chicken coop — then his heart sank when he saw it had a collar. The animal he killed was a Serval cat that someone was keeping as a pet. Heim says once he realized he'd shot a pet, he was sad for the animal — and angry at its owner for allowing it to be out.
November 19, 2008 Columbus, GA: Wildlife officials say a cougar killed at West Point Lake was an illegal pet. The 140-pound, 88-inch cat was shot by deer hunter David Adams of Newnan on U.S. Army Corps of Engineers land near the Georgia-Alabama border. Officials said the cat had not been living on wild game and had callouses indicative of living on concrete her whole life.
November 17, 2008 Miami, FL: A 16-year-old girl mauled by a 150-pound cougar required more than two hours of surgery to repair a large gash in the back of her neck suffered when the animal clenched its powerful jaws around her head. "It's really a miracle that she's alive," said a family spokesman. Because the male cougar, named Chaos, was declawed, the girl did not suffer scratches to her face or body. Saturday's attack was witnessed by the girl's mother, who had brought her daughter to work cleaning out cages at a private wild animal sanctuary in a North Miami-Dade home to earn community service hours required to graduate from high school. The cougar lunged at the teen in the yard of the home of Alan Rigerman who keeps the animals at his home in the 17900 block of Northwest 84th Avenue. Rigerman owns a second cougar, snakes, tortoises and alligators. The girl and her mother had been brought to the home by Anthony Zitnick, 21, who after the attack was arrested on a charge of burglary of an occupied dwelling. Rigerman told The Miami Herald that Zitnick entered the property with a key he had given him after Hurricane Wilma in 2005, but that Zitnick only helped with the animals while under Rigerman's "supervision." Zitnick casually knew the girl's mother and had asked her if any of her children would be interested in the nonpaying job. The girl and her mother had no idea Mr. Zitnick did not belong on the premises, which they entered with a key.
Chaos got agitated, suddenly lurched and pinned the girl, and put his mouth around her head. A neighbor who heard the girl's screams jumped over the fence and helped free her from Chaos' jaws by punching the animal in the face. At the time of Saturday's attack, Rigerman was out of town at a reptile show in Tampa. Rigerman often attends public meetings of Florida's Wildlife Conservation Commission praising them for their lax regulations and enforcement and opposing new rules that would curb his behavior. He has publicly threatened other attendees who favor tougher regulations.
November 16, 2008 Luray, VA: A 15 year old keeper lost her finger to a 5 year old tiger named Star at the Luray Zoo located at 1087 US Hwy 211 West, in Luray, Virginia 22835 owned by Mark Kilby and Jennifer Westhoff. She was showing off and petting the cat in front of visitors at the time. The Page County Sheriff's Office says the girl's finger was amputated as result of a tiger bite. The private zoo's web page is covered in pictures of people petting exotic cats and behaving recklessly. The Luray Zoo has frequently employed people as young as 14, said Kilby. It is a violation of VA's Dept. of Labor laws that teens under 18 work in any "occupation that exposes them to a recognized hazard capable of causing serious physical injury or death." Kilby declined to discuss whether the zoo carries insurance for such attacks. Besides the tiger, the zoo's 37 mammals include five other breeds of what Kilby terms "big cats" – two lynxes, one serval and one bobcat.
November 14, 2008 Camperdown, So. Africa: 12 lions escaped the Lion Park after a storm downed the fences. Ten lions have been recaptured and are being kept in cages, while two others are still roving about the reserve. "Two lions were found at the front gate [of the park] and this was when we first became aware that the others might have escaped," Boswell said. A search party of about 20 Lion Park staff members, a helicopter pilot and a district official from Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife (EKZNW) conservation authority searched for the remaining 10 lions throughout the morning. The police and the EKZNW officials were notified, but were asked NOT to alert the public of the potential danger lurking in the tall grass. Boswell said that the park did not want to involve the public because they did not wish to cause public panic.
November 13, 2008 Singapore: Three white tigers mauled Nordin Bin Montong, 32, a Malaysian working as a cleaner at the zoo, to death after the man jumped into their enclosure. "Keepers managed to separate the worker from the tiger. While waiting for the ambulance, our vets attended to him," said Guha. "The worker
tragically succumbed to his wound." Nordin was seen behaving in an agitated manner before he fell into the moat. Terrified visitors near the section watched the vicious attack in horror and screamed, the paper said. Aziz Ansari, 16, a student, filmed the initial part of the horrific attack with his handphone. The video clip showed Mr Nordin's desperate fight to save himself, first by trying to get up and back into the moat, then by kicking one of the two tigers.
November 11, 2008 Mexico City, Mexico: A tiger escaped from an unlocked cage at a commercial zoo and fatally mauled its caretaker before it was captured and killed. State officials said that Bioparque Estrella had closed Monday when the tiger escaped his unlocked cage and fatally attacked 26-year-old Herminio Rodriguez Palma. Some 150 police officers and zoo veterinarians began an intense search for the tiger at the 740-acre wild animal park in the countryside northwest of Mexico City. Mexico has had problems with dangerous animals escaping from their caretakers recently. In September, a five-ton elephant got away from his trainer at a circus, wandered onto a highway outside Mexico City and was fatally hit by a bus. The bus driver also was killed. Three tigers escaped from a circus truck and took shelter in a house in western Mexico last week and in August, a 500-pound lion escaped from a local lawmaker's private zoo in southern Mexico, killing two dogs and a pig and attacking a woman and child on a donkey before it was sedated and captured.
November 11, 2008 Maddaloni, Italy: A 700lb Siberian tiger which can grow to 12 feet long prowled the streets of Maddaloni, southern Italy, for more than five hours after escaping the circus.
November 9, 2008 Junsele, Sweden: A keeper was mauled by a white tiger at the zoo. The keeper, who has worked with the zoo's tigers for 16 years, was trapped in a cage with the big cat unti the zoo's owner, Ulf Henriksson lured the tiger away with a piece of meat so rescue workers could get the man out of the cage and into an ambulance. The keeper was bitten in the foot and the shoulder and would be hospitalized for a couple of days to ensure against infection from the wounds, Henriksson said, noting the tiger saw the keeper more as a playmate than a threat.
November 8, 2008 Anchorage, AK: In the past week, three reports of the cat wandering near Fort Richardson and Point Woronzof, some 10 miles apart, have reached Rick Sinnott, Anchorage-area wildlife biologist with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. The cat's reported spots and size appear to describe the serval, an African wildcat sometimes kept as a "designer" pet, he said. Possessing such an animal is a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and a $10,000 fine, he said.
November 5, 2008 Mexico City, Mexico: A family in Mexico was in shock after finding a tiger, which had escaped from a circus, lying on their patio, police said. The tiger terrified the town of Zitacuaro, in western Michoacan state, as it wandered the streets for an hour and a half before entering a house. The tiger "went through the house and lay down on the patio," the officer said. "The family was terrified and they hid." A total of three tigers escaped from their circus cages when the doors were left open the day before.
November 3, 2008 Ratchaburi: A male Bengal tiger has been on the loose in Ratchaburi since Thursday, when it escaped from its cage at a wildlife research station after attacking a keeper. The tiger, named Silathong, attacked Bunma Thongkerd, at the Khaoson wildlife research centre as he opened the cage for cleaning. Mr Bunma was mauled but survived. The tiger slipped out of the cage and ran off.
October 29, 2008 Broken Arrow, OK: Safari's Interactive Animal Sanctuary is home to 27 big cats. Former keepers have warned for years that the practices there of allowing contact with adult tigers would lead to injuries, escapes and death. SIAS' website is covered in the typically ignorant photos of the President, Lori Ensign Scroggins (ex-wife of Joe Estes who runs Safari Joe's) bottle feeding tigers and walking them on leashes. That kind of irresponsible behavior can only lead to tragedy for humans as well as the animals when they pay the ultimate price. Now the liger named Rocky may be killed for mauling to death a volunteer named Peter Getz who walked in the cage while feeding the cat a deer carcass. The mauling happened in the presence of more than 40 pre schoolers who were ushered away from the scene.
October 29, 2008 Winston, OR: Two cheetahs headed for the Memphis Zoo aboard a Delta flight made a stop at the Atlanta airport where it was discovered one of them had gotten free in the plane. The cheetahs are one-year-old sisters from Wildlife Safari Park in Winston, Oregon.
October 29, 2008Cambridgeshire U.K.:Hamerton Zoo offers 'Face to Face with a Cheetah' sessions but today the face to face happened with a little boy after the Cheetah escaped the zoo. The 6ft long animal was just 15 feet from 9 year oldToby when he spotted it. Toby dropped the bicycle he had been playing with and fled. As he reached the house the three-year-old, 66lb cheetah named Akea bit chunks out of the saddle and ripped the tires with his claws. Toby has since had nightmares over the incident. He said: "I panicked. It looked massive and really scary. I thought it would attack me. I ran as fast as I could."
October 28, 2008 Latham, NY: Many attacks and escapes go unreported as those who deal in exotics do not want the bad press, but they can't help but brag about it on what they think are private chat groups. This was posted on Phoenix Exotics by a breeder of Savannah cats: "Hell I got seriously bitten by a serval and I went to the ER and said I fell out of a tree and landed on barbed wire…" signed Deborah-Ann Milette, The home of the best known Savannah"MOTZIE" In 2005 USDA fined her and revoked her license 21-C-0218 for because she allegedly drugged and killed a tiger cub among other things. See 911AnimalAbuse.com for more.
October 28, 2008 Berlin, Germany: Rescue workers saved six tigers from a blazing 43-foot wagon by turning them loose on the highway. One tiger appeared to have suffered some smoke inhalation, but the other five were in good condition, owner Daniel Renz said. Renz said his show would go on, as planned on October 30, but the six tigers involved in Monday's blaze — Queeni, Aschima, Lena, Sonja, Sibi and Goldi — will be given a break and some of the circus' seven other tigers will perform in their place. The suspected cause was an overheated suspension system on the truck, said Renz.
October 14, 2008 Johannesbrg, So. Africa: Nelson Silaigwana of Three Streams Farm in Mangwe was found mauled to death by escaped lions. Two weeks ago, the eight-year-old daughter of a farmer was mauled by a lion and a lioness her father kept caged. Courtney Sparrow, who suffered a hole in her throat and serious injuries to her arms, face and head, underwent ten hours of surgery in Milpark Hospital, Johannesburg. Her father, Ron Sparrow, said he used the lions to deter attackers, but two lions broke through a weak window and the lioness attacked Courtney. A domestic worker was injured when she tried to rip Courtney from the lioness's grip.
October 13, 2008 Fallon, NV: A volunteer named Emmie was invited to pet the big cats at Tiger Touch owned by John and Barbara Williamson. She was petting a cougar named Kicky when the cat latched onto her palm and tried to drag her into the cage. See photos of the injury and read more about the mauling HERE.
October 4, 2008 Palm City, FL: A 50 lb, declawed Siberian Lynx disappeared from 3560 SW Wood Creek Trail at about 4:30 a.m., shortly after owner Tina Love fed her on the screened patio. "She's not the type to walk around," Love said. "But I thought she might have just wandered off." The property was unfenced. Love bought Simba from a breeder in Wisconsin for $2,500 after she gave away her bobcat because it was too wild. The Siberian Lynx was found again a couple weeks later, a mile and a half away, hanging out in a children's playground. She was confiscated by authorities as the owner did not have current permits and lacked appropriate caging. Often Big Cat Rescue has to turn away cats, from irresponsible owners who are trying to dump them, because the owners refuse to sign a contract stating that they will never again fuel the exotic pet trade.
September 16, 2008 Gaveston, TX: Galveston County Judge Jim Yarbrough said Tuesday that a tiger is out of its enclosure from an exotic pets center. The news follows reports of a lion holed up in a Baptist church with its owner on Bolivar Peninsula. Yarbrough said, "I understand he's hungry … so we're staying away from him." Hurricane Ike made landfall Sept. 13 but a week later, the tiger still had not been found. The lioness and her owner were waist deep in water in the church along with several people who had fled there for shelter. "They worked pretty well together, actually," said the lion's owner, Michael Ray Kujawa. "When you have to swim, the lion doesn't care about eating nobody."
August 20 Reno, NV: Washoe County Regional Animal Services originally responded to a call about a large black dog on the roof of a home in the valley east of Washoe Lake. When they got there, they found not a dog, but two black leopards on the roof. State Wildlife Department spokesman Edwin Lyngar says the cats are exotic pets that escaped from the home of their owner Andy Kay who could not be reached for comment at telephone numbers associated with the West Coyote Drive address or the Ann Road address. Washoe County Assessor's Office records indicate the Washoe Valley property is owned by Coyote Irrevocable Trust and that Kay is a trustee. In March two black leopards were fired on by the police after allegedly mauling a puppy 200 yards from their home. Those cats were never found and are suspected to be the same as these found on a rooftop. Regional Animal Services Center Director Cindy Sabatoni said two Siberian tigers were found in Washoe County two years ago and a bobcat was found last year in Stead. The problem in NV is so prevalent that the tigers never even made the news.
August 19, 2008 West Palm Beach, FL: Authorities found and sedated a missing tiger from McCarthy's Wildlife Center. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission says the adult lion and tiger escaped and were loose overnight at McCarthy's Wildlife Sanctuary (a breeding compound and not a true sanctuary) about 20 miles northwest of West Palm Beach. Three schools, Golden Grove Elementary, Acreage Pines Elementary and Western Pines Middle, were on lock-down until the tiger was found and sedated at 11:00 am the next day. Authorities say they don't know how the big cats escaped. A person who answered the telephone at the sanctuary on Wednesday said they couldn't comment and abruptly hung up. Marc McCarthy houses 22 big cats on what appears in aerial maps to be about 8 lots in a subdivision. In May, McCarthy was rushed to the hospital after being bitten on the leg by one of his tigers, Sabi, on the set of a rap video being filmed in Miami.
August 5, 2008 Richmond Township, IL: Larry Dean said he was practicing a circus act at the Hawthorn Corporation farm near Richmond when the tiger suddenly became aggressive and grabbed him with its mouth. "He had numerous scratch marks and bite marks," said Richmond Township Fire Chief Rick Gallas. "I would say that was a mauling… he was pretty bloody." Gallas said workers told paramedics they had to beat the tiger with baseball bats to get it to release Dean. Gallas said Dean told paramedics it was the second time a tiger had attacked him at the farm, but Dean declined to comment when asked about that on Thursday and Hawthorn's owner, John Cuneo says Dean should not have been near the tigers. Hawthorn owns about 50 tigers but only about 30 of the animals are at the farm, Cuneo said. Others are performing at circuses around the world, Cuneo said. In 2003 the U.S. Department of Agriculture accused Hawthorn of failing to care for its elephants properly. But in 2004 he agreed to give away his elephants in exchange for keeping his circus tigers. Cuneo has tried to get rid of his tigers when they won't perform by asking Big Cat Rescue to take them, but Big Cat Rescue does not enable bad behaviour. Cuneo's Sarasota neighbors are concerned that he plans to move his tigers to their neighborhood as he has purchased 5 acres of beach front there and asked for permits to install n 8 foot high wall. FL law requires 5 ac and an 8' fence for people to keep tigers in their back yard.
August 4, 2008 Branson, MO: A 16-year-old boy named Dakoda Ramel is in the hospital after an attack at the Interactive Zoo and Aquarium( fka Predator World) in Branson West owned by Breck Wakefield. Rescue crews say a 16-year-old employee entered the tiger exhibit to take some photos for guests. Witnesses tell rescuers the teen was knocked to the ground. That's when they say two other tigers joined in, dragging the teen to the water trough. "We have two puncture wounds on the neck, one big one on the leg, a big gash on the leg. His neck is bleeding,” a caller says on the 911 tape. That's the condition in which he was airlifted to Springfield, where he remains four days later in critical condition. The father of the boy, Jim Barr said, "It was holding him down by his leg and tearing his calf off, eating it right in front of him." A lot of people remember Predator World from last year, when some wolves, a fox and a bear escaped. The bear killed an adult tiger at the park. What this park is known for is its interactions with animals like sharks, tigers and alligators.
August 3, 2008 Warren County, MO: A 26 year old volunteer named Jacob Barr was mauled by a tiger at the Wesa-A-Geh-Ya Animal Facility and lost his leg below the knee. The Warren County Sheriff's Department responded, to a report of a dog attack. Staff at the compound described not a tiger, but rather a pitbull attack. "This was not a dog attack, it was indeed a cat (800 lb tiger) attack on the person," Sheriff Kevin Harrison said. "And that they had tried to mislead my investigators and cover it up." The victim lost his leg below the knee and was airlifted to Barnes Hospital by Arch Air Medical. The tiger named Hercules who was said to have hopped the fence was shot to death by the owners, Ken and Sandra Smith. They then hid the body at a family member's house. The farm is home to 50 exotic animals and has been criticized by animal protection groups and USDA. About four years ago, the USDA filed allegations against the Smiths that included not providing proper veterinary treatment and lacking adequately trained employees. The Smiths gave up their exhibitor license and later had it revoked for operating without a license. They are no longer inspected by USDA and the Sheriff's office has no resources to devote to managing these kinds of operations. More HERE.
July 17, 2008 New Zealand Safari Park: Lisa Baxter, a 19 year old tour guide knew that if she screamed it would wake the rest of the pack and she would be killed, so she quietly worked to free her hands from the piercing bite of 18 month old Timba, the lion. Lisa, of Gullane, East Lothian, said: "I was stroking Timba's nose when he just grabbed my hand. His teeth were razorsharp and went straight through my skin." Later she added, "My hands were so swollen, I thought they were going to explode."
July 10, 2008 Atlanta, GA: A serval was found wandering near 14th Street and Georgia Tech in mid-town Atlanta and picked up by Animal Services who said the problem is more prevalent than most people think. Owning an exotic cat as a pet is illegal in GA unless it is being used for "education" so when exotic cats escape their owners rarely come forward. Big Cat Rescue received a report from a neighbor saying that the owner had become fearful of the cat as he matured and turned him loose on purpose. The cat, dubbed Ozzie, has been placed in a licensed facility. GA has no accredited sanctuaries, so that probably wasn't a happy ending for the cat.
June 20, 2008 Thailand's Tiger Temple: In a report on the Tiger Temple released today is documented and account of a Thai woman who came with her partner to help raise funds for the Temple, put her hand into the tiger, Dao Ruang's, cage to pet her. Dao took hold of the woman's hand with her mouth. When the
frightened woman tried to pull her hand away, Dao Ruang bit through it and held on. The woman's partner came over and hit Dao Ruang over the head. The woman's hand was badly torn between her 3rd and 4th fingers and required numerous stitches to close the wound. On other occasions, investigators observed tigers attacking staff and volunteers. One resulted in an injured finger, which needing suturing, another a French volunteer whose shirt was ripped, narrowly missing her neck and another a Danish volunteer who was tackled to the ground by and bitten on the leg. The resulting injury got infected and the volunteer need medical treatment at a hospital. During an interview with a journalist in January 2008, the Abbot was asked why the tigers do not bite. The Abbot said, "They want to bite and one day they will bite." Meanwhile the Monks spray tiger urine in the cats' faces to subdue them. Animal Planet has removed all references to the show. Read the entire report HERE.
June 19, 2008 Newton County, MO: A deputy shot and killed a 6 month old, declawed, black jaguar after being called to the home of a woman who thought she had seen a cougar. The jaguar had body fat, but no food in its stomach, and his paw pads indicated having been kept on concrete, which means he had escaped from captivity. Missouri does not regulate non-native wildlife, so the agency has no records that might have revealed where the jaguar was being kept. Last month, a declawed black leopard was shot to death in Neosho, MO.
June 17, 2008 McAllen, TX: Police said Michelle Ashton, 49, who was arrested while exchanging carriers filled with six tiger cubs in a parking lot, could be linked to a suspected tiger-smuggling ring. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Special Agent Alejandro Rodriguez says it appears the cubs were bound for Mexico when they were seized. According to the feds, smuggling wildlife is a lucrative business that ranks second only to drug smuggling. "It's a very huge problem," Fish & Wildlife Service Agent Nicholas Chavez said. "It's been prevalent for years. It's something that we see definitely every week." "You could get anywhere from probably $3000 to $25000 a piece for them depending on what color they are, what they look like," he said. Ashton allegedly told police that she was a representative of Spring Hill Wildlife Ranch outside of Calvert in Robertson County. If convicted Ashton could face a $250,000 dollar fine and up to five years in prison for violating the U.S. Endangered Species Act. Wildlife trafficking earns billions of dollars annually. Smuggling wildlife products feeds into multipurpose criminal distribution networks that generate what Younger called "peripheral
crime." This includes corruption of officials, falsification of documents, intimidation and murder. "Once we start to dig into these things we find that not only are they smuggling wildlife, for example, but they'll be smuggling narcotics, or diamonds or gold bullion," he said.
June 12, 2008 Shifang, China: Following an earthquake on May 12 and mudslides that caused 400 people to flee on foot, a circus turned loose many of their animals and left 3 lions and 2 tigers behind in cages. On June 3 soldiers shot one 2 year old tiger to death in his cage. One white lion had starved to death already. When Chen Qinghua, head of Wanguan Group, was informed that a tiger and 2 lions were still alive, he organized a rescue party who transported the big cats by helicopter to the Bifengxia Zoo. They had gone without food or water for 25 days.
June 7, 2008 Tokyo, Japan: Zookeeper, Atsushi Ito, was mauled to death by an 11 year old, 330 lb. male tiger while cleaning the animal's cage at the Kyoto City Zoo in western Japan. Police suspected Ito had failed to lock a door that connected two cages.
June 6, 2008 Winnepeg, Canada: Kelly John Clarke, 38, sometimes called the Tiger Man of St. Clements has been charged with two counts of first degree murder in connection with the brutal killings of Joel Labossiere, 34, and his pregnant wife Magdalena, 33, who were found shot to death inside their St. Vital house on April 20. Clarke first made headlines in 1997 when his Midwest Exotics – a business that bought and sold exotic animals to pet stores, zoos and universities – brought to his St. Clements home Sheena, a Siberian tiger. When his trailer burned to the ground 1998, surrounding residents pressured council to bring forward a restricted exotic animal bylaw. Most of the animals were confiscated, but in August 1999, Winnipeg police seized the 250-kilogram Sheena after the tiger was spotted in a cage in the back of a van in River Heights. In December 2001 Clarke was sentenced to 3 1/2 years in prison and a 10-year weapons prohibition for 14 armed robberies. He went on the spree to fund a $1,000-a-day crack cocaine habit. In August 2007, Clarke was arrested in Selkirk and charged with intimidation after allegedly disrupting a Winnipeg trial and following a Crown attorney while she drove home from work. These are the kind of people who have big cats as pets.
May 27 So. Africa: A man in his forties was attacked and killed by six lions on a lion farm in Setlagole, near Mafikeng, North West police said. Superintendent Koos Degenaar said the man went into the lion's cage to give the animals water. He was then attacked by six lions. All that was left of the man were fingers and intestines. This is the sixth such incident to be reported in the province in two years. Other incidents include a 13 year old boy who was killed by lions at Tosca, two people who were killed on two different farms at
Zeerust, anther fatal lion attack at a farm near Swartruggens and a fifth occurred near Potchefstroom.
May 26, 2008 South Bend, IN: A Potawatomi Zoo worker was attacked by a leopard as she cleaned the cat's holding area, leaving her with head wounds. Zoo visitors watched Saturday as veteran zoo keeper Jeri Ellis was wheeled away on a stretcher, her head wrapped in bandages and towels spotted in blood.
May 24, 2008 Detroit Zoo, MI: Royal Oak – An animal handler at the Detroit Zoo has received stitches after being scratched and bitten by a lioness named Katie. The Detroit Free Press reports the attack happened shortly after Saturday's 5 p.m. public closing time. Zoo spokeswoman Patricia Mills Janeway says Brett Kipley, who in his 20s, received stitches at a hospital. The newspaper says Kipley used pepper spray to fend off the animal during the attack.
May 21, 2008 Neosho, MO: A 61 year old woman was chased into her house by a black leopard. An officer on the scene said he shot the cat with a shot gun two or three times as it approched him and then fired several rounds from a .45 caliber Glock into the cat's chest before stopping him. The cat was pawing at the door to get into the house when the police arrived. The leopard was a declawed pet that had escaped or had been dumped.
May 14, 2008 Russia: A drunken Russian zookeeper, who was mauled by a lion after climbing into its pen May 1 at a zoo in the Russian Black Sea port of Novorossiisk, died in hospital Tuesday, investigators said. The man, who had been suspended from work for being drunk, entered the animal's enclosure while the lion slept and was attacked by the big cat as he tried to tap it on the nose.
May 11, 2008 Toledo, OH: The Toledo Zoo said that a zookeeper suffered three lacerations to the chest while caring for the tigers. The tiger's paw made it through a double mesh barrier at an odd angle, enabling the tiger to come into contact with the keeper.
May 10, 2008 Carrollton, IL: Authorities have seized an African Serval named Max from Tammy Ruehl who was keeping it as a pet without a permit. Ruehl says she received a $75 fine. Carrollton Police Chief Mike Kiger says the state had the right to confiscate the animal.
May 9, 2007 Loxahatchee, FL: According to PR-inside.com and Palm Beach Post: "Mark McCarthy who took his tiger onto the set of rapper Rick Ross' new video, was savagely attacked by the white tiger. The big cat, which featured in the background of one of Ross' scenes with Nellie was being used as a prop to look like the rapper's pet. The tiger turned on the unnamed trainer when he tried to coax the fierce creature out of its cage during filming. Reportedly agitated from being in chains all day, the tiger bit the trainer's leg as he tried to remove it from its cage. The tiger's keeper suffered severe bite wounds to his right leg and was rushed to hospital after the attack. Now laid up, McCarthy had to cancel some of his other gigs. "Won't be the first time I've been bit, won't be the last. I've been bit by everything from venomous snakes to tigers and leopards and monkeys and who knows what else," said the 52-year-old owner of McCarthy's Wildlife Sanctuary. He said the $5,000 bonus he got for the video will barely make up for the shows he missed. "
May 9, 2008 Muskegon, MI: Both a serval and a bear are believed to have escaped April 28 or 29. Numerous residents in Fruitport Township reported seeing the bear early this week before it was recovered. The serval, a declawed cat with no way to protect himself or hunt, is still missing. He escaped through a window in the room where he was kept. DNR spokeswoman Mary Dettloff said the agency probably will seek a misdemeanor charge against the owners for failure to report the missing bear, as required by the SPCA's permit.
May 1, 2008 Quebec: The 70-kilogram king of the jungle, who goes by the name of Boomer, has been on the lam since he escaped last night from a house where he was kept as a man's personal pet. The lion, which is about four feet high, was last spotted beside Highway 105, near Maniwaki, about an hour north of Ottawa.
April 18, 2008 Los Angeles, CA: Five Circus Vazquez tigers have been evicted by Los Angeles animal welfare officials because the big-cats earlier attacked and killed another tiger in their small cage. Department general manager Ed Boks says the tigers killed one of their own in Huntington Park on March 31 and the U.S. Department ofAgriculture cited Circus Vazquez for having too many tigers in close proximity to each other. Los Angeles officials went to the San Fernando Valley where the circus was performing across from the Panorama City Mall and the tigers were close together in the same cage. Boks says it was believed to be a public danger.
April 18, 2008 San Francisco, CA: Nicki Phung, 31 and Steven Tieu, 38, admitted in federal court to trying to illegally import a real, stuffed tiger into the United States. The two were caught in December when a U.S. Customs official at San Francisco International Airport inspected a box labeled "toy tiger" mailed from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam and bound for the couple's home in Hercules, CA.
March 29, 2008 Wellington, FL: Judy Berens, owner of Panther Ridge Sanctuary, was showing off her two male cheetahs, Matt and Charlie, that she says she paid $40,000.00 for in Africa, when they knocked her down and punctured her arms and back more than 40 times before volunteers were able to rescue her. Berens says she has to pay another $10,000. to the Cheetah Conservation Botswana and Cheetah Outreach as part of her deal with the US Fish & Wildlife Service who are not supposed to allow the import of endangered species unless doing so somehow enhances their species chances at survival. Many of these Cheetah conservation centers are merely breeding facilities that supply cats to zoos and private collectors. (The cats are not set free.) Berens has more than twenty exotic cats in her 5 acre back yard and said, she fashioned herself after Katharine Hepburn's leopard-owning character in Bringing up Baby. "I figured if she can have a leopard, why can't I..?." Judy Berens' comment is exactly why displaying big cats as tractable is harmful to people and the cats. If show biz had not portrayed Hepburn as a master of the leopard, Berens might not have shelled out 7500.00 for her Jaguars nor the 50,000 for her pet Cheetahs. As long as people, like Berens continue to exhibit exotic cats as if they were tame, others will say, "…why can't I?"
March 28, 2008 Davenport, FL: Darryl Atkinson of Horseshoe Creek says the animals have to go now that he won't be able to exhibit them for money. He has more than 30 big cats in cages that have been cited more than 40 times for being too small and too flimsy. When Big Cat Rescue called to see if they could help they were told that Atkinson was going to work with Bhagavan Antle (T.I.G.E.R.S. in SC and FL) and that his cats were going with him. There isn't much the state or federal government can do to stop him if another dealer is willing to let him continue to operate under their license.
March 20, 2008 Ontario, Canada Bowmanville Zoo: A martial arts teacher knocked over by a lion during a photo shoot for Desi Life at Bowmanville Zoo says she is happy to have come away with four broken ribs and a bloodied lung. "To be honest, the sensation I have is a great deal of gratitude to be alive," Gitanjali Kolanad said yesterday. In the video, one minder kicks the baby lion in the neck while the other pulls on a leash. The lion takes a second, unsuccessful lunge at Kolanad as she lies gasping, before he is hauled out the door. "I couldn't breathe – that was the terrifying part. The muscles in my chest seized up and they didn't relax until I was in the emergency room and they gave me a muscle relaxant." See it here: http://www.thestar.com/DesiLife/article/347684
February 23, 2008 Miami, FL: A pet serval was turned in, no questions asked, at an exotic pet amnesty day sponsored by the Florida Wildlife Conservation Commission. 100 owners dropped off bags full of pythons, scorpions and assorted other reptiles, birds and mammals. "This is garden-variety stuff," said exotic pet veterinarian Thomas Goldsmith, who examined the submissions. "This is Miami. People have sloths and leopards and God knows what else." The FWC then gave the dumped pets to new owners. One of the people surrendering her pets, Christie Lyon said, "People have no idea what they're getting into."
February 21, 2008 Honolulu, HI: A 245-pound Sumatra tiger named Berani was discovered wandering around an unsecured area just before the Honolulu Zoo's opening on Thursday. A startled female volunteer reported the escape after the tiger brushed past her. Zoo workers describe 8-year-old Berani as the tamest of three tigers at the zoo. Quintal says staff members who cleaned the tiger enclosure failed to properly latch a gate.
February 21, 2008 Johnstown, OH: Ben Uditis was driving when he noticed a fire at 3159 S. County Line
Rd. Editis woke Rick Armstrong and helped him get his animals out of his garage, including a caged tiger. Firefighters arriving on the scene had to work around the big cat to put out the blaze. ( Since no one was harmed, this is not included in the totals above as an incident although the first responders would certainly call it one. )
February 13, 2008 Bracebridge, Ontario: Provincial police were forced to shoot and kill a six year old jaguar named Bhino after he broke through a chain link cage at Guhu Exotic Animal Reserve. When officers arrived, they found the jaguar with the family's pet dog in his mouth. The dog was on a chain and therefore couldn't escape the jaguar and had to be put down because of severe injuries.
February 9, 2008 Davenport, FL: Brenda Chapman was clawed by a tiger named Kheira while cleaning out its cage, at Horseshoe Creek said Gary Morse of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission.The incident comes on the heels of Darryl Atkinson's Feb. 1 arrest on charges of grand theft and signing a forged instrument. The commission said it found Atkinson accepting money from people on court-ordered probation in exchange for signing off on community service work they did not do. "That's just not what I need with all this other stuff," owner Darryl Atkinson said.
January 24, 2008 Seattle, WA: Two declawed, yearling servals were found wandering around West Seattle. Animal Control picked up one on Jan. 1 as it was going after some cat food left on a doorstep. Officers picked up the second one on the grounds of Madison Middle School. Officer Don Baxter suspects they both belonged to the same owner, who has not claimed them.
January 18, 2008 Mayes County, OK: The fire at Safari Joe's Exotic Wildlife Refuge destroyed a large barn that housed big cats, monkeys, birds and reptiles. Joe Estes, who owns the refuge, says he was able to save some tigers and lions but at least two tigers housed on the property died in the flames along with about 100 other exotic animals.
For the cats,
Carole Baskin, CEO of Big Cat Rescue
an Educational Sanctuary home
to more than 100 big cats
12802 Easy Street Tampa, FL 33625
813.493.4564 fax 885.4457
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