Public hearing planned for tiger sanctuary
By Mindy Honey
May 23, 2009
The public will have a chance to weigh in next month on a project that would build an environmental learning center and tiger sanctuary north of Branson.
Developers of the project were on hand Monday night for a conceptual hearing during the monthly Taney County Planning and Zoning meeting and were given the OK to proceed to the public hearing stage. The project would include an education center, visitor’s center and a USDA habitat for endangered species.
“The tigers make a great ambassador for the environment and their only predator is man,” said Keith Kinkade, a representative from Global Resources for environmental Education and Nature, known as GREEN. “Our main goal is environmental education.”
GREEN is a not-for-profit organization and currently has a tiger sanctuary south of St. Louis, which has been open for 10 years. Kinkade said their goal isn’t to show off tigers, which are “very endangered,” but to educate people on the importance of protecting the environment.
“We really have to save the whole planet,” he said.
“To save any species, you have to save the environment. One link in that chain can have a big effect.”
Kinkade said the tigers are usually what draws people to their facilities. But, keeping people safe is also a top priority.
“We haven’t had any accidents,” he said.
Since 2000, there have been approximately nine fatalities from tiger attacks and almost all were from people climbing into a tiger’s cage, he explained.
“We don’t go in with cats. We don’t play with them,” he said. “We never let anybody touch the cats.”
Kinkade said they have a perfect safety record.
The June planning and zoning public hearing will be held at 7 p.m. June 8 in the Taney County Courthouse.