Missing Palm City Siberian lynx found, but taken from owner due to violations
By Monique Mattiace
Thursday, November 20, 2008
PALM CITY — The 50-pound Siberian lynx that went missing last month is now at the Busch Wildlife Sanctuary in Jupiter after the owner signed the animal over to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
“I felt like I didn’t have a choice,” said Tina Love, the lynx’s owner. “(The FWC) made it impossible to keep her.”
Love found the missing 7-year-old lynx sometime between the ending of October and beginning of November after a family who lives a mile and a half away from her Palm City home on Woodcreek Trail called her, Love said.
Simba was lying on the high beam of a playground set when Love found her.
“When she saw me her eyes lit up and she was more lovable then ever,” Love said.
But Love didn’t have Simba for long.
About a week after finding Simba, the FWC came to Love’s home asking if they could take pictures of Simba and look at Simba’s cage, said Love.
“I let them into my home thinking all they wanted to do was take pictures, and then they told me they had to take my baby, and they started writing me citations,” said Love crying over the phone.
Love was charged with two separate misdemeanors. The first was for improper caging when Simba was moved from her cage to the screened in porch, which is where she escaped from. The second was for not having an updated permit for the lynx, FWC spokeswoman Gabriella Ferraro said. Love’s permit for the lynx had been expired for several months.
“The rules and regulations are to keep Love safe, the public safe and Simba safe,” Ferraro said.
The charges were processed on Oct. 30, and Love is set to appear in court on Dec. 4, Ferraro said.
“I didn’t break any laws intentionally,” Love said. “I love my baby. She’s apart of our family, and if I would have known certain things had to be done then I would have done them to keep her safe.”
Love said the FWC told her she had to have a fence around Simba’s cage, barriers on the windows in the home and a one-year lease on where she’s living now.
“When I got Simba’s permit here that was never stated. They changed the law on me and didn’t send me a notice or anything,” Love said.
Simba will stay at the Busch Wildlife Sanctuary until the case is over, Ferraro said. Then a decision will be made based on Simba’s future, but Love likely cannot get the cat back.
Love is having financial problems and can’t afford an attorney for her case, but she said she wants to do everything she can to get Simba back.
“I would cut off my arm for her if I had to,” Love said. “She belongs with her family, and I really need help getting her back.”
Simba first went missing Oct. 4 on a Saturday morning after Love removed the 4 ½-foot-long animal from her cage and put her in the screen-enclosed patio. When she awoke later that day she discovered a hole in the screen and Simba missing.
Almost a week later Simba was spotted a half a mile away from home. That day Love made contact with the cat, picked her up and put her into a sheriff’s office car. But, when Love and Simba were in the car no one closed the door soon enough and Simba escaped again.
Sometime after that Love found Simba and brought her home.
“The public really helped me find Simb,a and I’m so grateful for them,” said Love. “It would be great now if someone can help me get her back.”
Learn more about big cats and Big Cat Rescue at http://bigcatrescue.org