Florida owner of lion, tiger cited for conditions that led to escape

Owner of lion, tiger cited for conditions that led to escape in Loxahatchee

Palm Beach Post Staff

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

A Loxahatchee wildlife sanctuary has been cited by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission after a Bengal tiger and a lion escaped their pens as Tropical Storm Fay passed through town.

Mark McCarthy, owner of McCarthy’s Wildlife Sanctuary was cited for keeping the animals in an unsafe manner, resulting in a threat to the public.

The citation is a second-degree misdemeanor, with up to a $500 fine or 60 days in jail, Fish and Wildlife spokeswoman Gabriella Ferraro.

Investigators determined that the gate hinges on the enclosure were improperly secured Aug. 20, the day the animals went missing. The animals were apparently able to push the gate off its hinges.

The escaped Bengal tiger was cornered and shot twice with tranquilizer darts after the brief scare that forced three schools to take special precautions. Officials waited for the big cat to become groggy before returning it to a cage. The adult lion was quickly recaptured.

Following the incident, the FWC inspected the entire property. In addition to the citation, FWC inspectors issued three warnings relating to other cages on the property, Ferraro said.

This is McCarthy’s first citation, and Ferraro said that since the incident he has made several improvements to the property.

McCarthy’s Wildlife Sanctuary has been operated by Mark McCarthy as a traveling educational exhibit since the mid-1980s. McCarthy also holds a wildlife rehabilitation permit. McCarthy’s houses 22 big cats who “consume 1,000 pounds of meat each week,” according to its Web site.

In May, one of McCarthy’s tigers, Sabi, bit him on the leg on the set of a rap video being filmed in Miami.

http://www.palmbeachpost.com/localnews/content/west/epaper/2008/09/10/0910mccarthy.html

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