Woman vows to move lion, tiger other animals out of city limits
By Jeremy Roebuck
April 16, 2009 – 7:13PM
EDINBURG TX – The owner of a planned animal sanctuary on the city’s north side vowed Thursday to pack up her menagerie and move out of town.
Barbara Hoffman’s decision comes a week after a state district judge ruled against her and her business partner, Fred Lulling, in their ongoing fight to keep their lion, tiger and collection of other beasts on a rented property within city limits.
The city had previously ordered Hoffman to move her animals off the premises by the end of the year because they violated zoning ordinances and posed a risk to public safety.
“I see no reason to remain with a sanctuary that the community could benefit from in a city that doesn’t support it,” she said Thursday. “If Edinburg doesn’t want (it), they don’t need it. They can keep their courthouse and all their regulations.”
Hoffman originally planned to open the wildlife sanctuary after moving to the eight-acre plot along North U.S. 281 in Edinburg in October.
Envisioning a center that would become an educational resource for school children, families and Winter Texans, she had already started setting up permanent cages for her big cats, drawing up plans for the facility and planning events she hoped to host there when the city denied her permit requests.
The refusal sparked a legal challenge in which Hoffman and Lulling argued that the zoning board incorrectly characterized the animals as pets. They asked the court to order the city to reconsider.
But state District Judge Rudy Delgado threw out their petition April 9, saying they had failed to follow procedural steps and file their suit in a timely manner.
The pair had also failed to register their animals with the city, state and U.S. Department of Agriculture by a city-imposed deadline, said Edinburg spokeswoman Irma Garza in a prepared statement.
While Lulling said Thursday that he and his partner would appeal the decision, Hoffman saw the judge’s order as a final word on the matter.
“It’s over,” she said. “It’s all a relief off my shoulders.”
Hoffman hopes to move out of her current location within three months and said several municipalities have already responded positively to her overtures about moving the animals within their limits.
“I need to get these animals settled,” she said. “I need to be settled.”