Papers filed to oust tiger from Highlands

Papers filed to oust tiger from Highlands

Richard Watts, Times Colonist
Published: Saturday, September 27, 2008

Court documents have been filed by the District of Highlands to begin the process of removing Suzy the tiger from her caged home in that municipality.

A petition filed Sept. 22, with the B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver where the Highlands’ law firm has its offices, asks the court to declare the tiger’s owner in violation of animal control regulations.

It also asks the court to make an order compelling the tiger’s removal from the Highlands within 30 days of the date of the order.

Dave Bennett, who runs an automobile rebuilding business at his home on Millstream Road, brought in the tiger on Sept. 3 to a chain-link pen specially constructed next to his house.

Bennett acquired the tiger, a two-year-old female weighing about 150 kilograms named Suzy, from a private wildlife park in Lake Cowichan, which in turn received it as a cub from people working in the movie industry in Vancouver.

A municipal bylaw banning a wide variety of exotic animals in Highlands was hurriedly passed in the days prior to Suzy’s arrival.

Bennett said yesterday he hadn’t heard of court papers being filed or served. He added, though, that he is in contact with a lawyer prepared to fight on his and Suzy’s behalf.

Since the tiger’s arrival, Bennett’s home has played host to literally thousands of people, he said.

“I don’t mind. Every single person who has met her has left here happy,” said Bennett.

But Highlands Mayor Mark Cardinal said everyone on his council wants what’s best and safest for both citizens and the tiger.

“We want to find an acceptable alternative, or a better alternative than it being kept in the Highlands.”

Cardinal said animal sanctuaries exist for creatures like Suzy that have been abandoned by circuses or the entertainment industry.

At least one person has expressed a willingness to take Suzy and local citizens have helped raise money to ship her to a sanctuary in Colorado.

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