Police Group Shows Ignorance About What Happens To Big Cats
WILD THINGSTHE NORTHWEST DISTRICT POLICE STATION WAS OVERRUN BY EXOTIC ANIMALS AS PART OF A DEMONSTRATION FOR A GROUP OF POLICE EXPLORERS
BY REBECCA DELLAGLORIA
Mordred, a 3-month-old cougar cub, saunters out of the back of the air-conditioned SUV he’s been riding in, coming face-to-face with an eager mob of onlookers.
So, he does what comes naturally: He strikes. Playfully, swatting one bystander after another with his declawed paw, before taking on a cat more than twice his size — a tiger named Simba.
The display was all in fun, part of a demonstration for a group of Police Explorers in Northwest Miami-Dade June 20, outside the Northwest District Station in Miami Lakes.
As for the frisky felines? Mordred is the offspring of Chantel, a proud cougar momma belonging to exotic animal enthusiast Alan Rigerman; Simba, a 6-month-old tiger, was on loan from her owner, Frank Pahon of South Miami-Dade.
All this to entertain and teach a group of 14- to-21-year old Youth Explorers who get to experience different kinds of programs and community service activities.
”I’ve been doing this all my life, and I wanted to share it with you,” said Rigerman, a retired science teacher from Hialeah-Miami Lakes High. “This is fun for me, believe it or not.”
Rigerman, who volunteers his services — and an array of exotic wildlife, including lizards, snakes and tortoises — for youth demonstrations across the county, loves to share his passion for all things exotic. And he does it for a pittance: a letter that helps him keep his license to house and show exotic animals.
Although, he does admit, he’s always available for parties.
During his presentation, Rigerman informed the youth (cougars are also known as mountain lions, but not quite the same as the Florida Panther); and showed off his handling skills — ”This is not going to hurt the tiger, really,” Rigerman assured, as he pulled out a plastic stick used to discipline the beast.
Mordred, on his way to total domestication, climbs up the shoulders and nibbles the head of Edgar Lesmes, the police officer in charge of the Explorers program.
Simba, well, not so much.
”I’ve never been so close to these animals,” said 16-year-old Nicole Olivares, an American Senior High student, who handled the young cougar, even petted its belly. “It’s scary, but at the same time it’s cool. They’re beautiful.”
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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