2011 A sick lion in Stony Ridge
has his owner fearing a deadly disease. The owner of Tiger Ridge Exotics says his king of the jungle is not acting like himself.
API files complaint against Tiger Ridge Exotics 2006
By DAN DEARTH
STONY RIDGE — The owner of a roadside zoo in Stony Ridge says a complaint that was filed last month by an animal rights group asserting his animals are a danger to the public is hogwash.
The Animal Protection Institute filed a complaint with the United States Department of Agriculture against Kenny Hetrick, owner of Tiger Ridge Exotics, 5359 Fremont Pike, saying Hetrick recklessly endangers visitors by exposing them to grizzly bears, lions and tigers.
Nicole Paquette, API spokeswoman, said two of her group’s inspectors recently visited Tiger Ridge Exotics and witnessed Hetrick open cage doors without providing a buffer between the animals and visitors.
“These animals present public safety and health threats,” Paquette said. “It’s an accident waiting to happen.”
In addition, Paquette said Hetrick allowed the inspectors to enter into a cage where a lynx was kept. The lynx, she said, bit Hetrick’s arm and caused an open wound.
“We’re not asking these facilities be shut down,” she said. “We want these facilities to provide proper animal care. These animals shouldn’t be kept in captivity.”
Hetrick said the lynx never bit him. Claiming it did is just API’s way of pushing a misguided agenda.
“They’re trying to make the public believe that dozens of people have been killed by tigers,” Hetrick said. “I’m not going to let the animals get out. That would be the end of me.”
To show the API is using dishonest methods, Hetrick said the investigators that Paquette mentioned claimed to be German exchange students when they visited his property.
The investigators also maintained that Hetrick kept a panther in his basement. The only problem with that story, Hetrick said, is that he doesn’t have a basement.
As to Hetrick endangering visitors, he said the API failed to mention that he has electric fences skirting the inside perimeter of the cages. The animals know better than to go near the cage or risk getting shocked.
“I’ve done this for 35 years and no one’s ever been scratched … and no one’s ever going to be,” Hetrick said. “(API is) not looking for anything good. They’re only looking for the negative.”
Hetrick, who has state and federal licenses to keep exotic animals, said the USDA recently sent an inspector to his property to investigate API’s complaint and found nothing wrong.
The USDA, however, refused to confirm Hetrick’s claim, saying Tuesday that a Freedom of Information Act request has to be filed first. An answer would be available in about a month.
Originally published April 12, 2006
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