Suzy’s Island adventure is over

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Suzy’s Island adventure is over

Published: July 31, 2009 12:00 PM
Updated: July 31, 2009 12:51 PM
Charla Huber
Goldstream Gazette

With playmate Suzy the tiger out of Highlands, Tyson the German shepherd lays in the grass heartbroken, staring at the empty cage.

Inseparable chums for almost a year, Suzy and Tyson would chase each other back and forth, separated by the walls of the chain-link cage.

“Obviously I didn’t want to let her go,” Dave Bennett, Suzy’s former owner said Friday. “I am sorry to have her leave.”

Suzy’s new owner, a rancher from Interior, walked into her cage, put a chain around her neck and guided her into a horse trailer on Monday night.

“She didn’t go easily. He had to chase her down,” Bennett said. “I’ve never been in the cage with her, but I guess I could have.”

After living in Highlands for almost a year, Suzy boarded a BC Ferry with her new owner, heading to a new life. He found Suzy’s new owner through “word-of mouth”, Bennett said.

Under the conditions of the rancher taking Suzy to his 160-acre property in the Interior, Bennett agreed the tiger would be transported quietly without any media or public attention.

“He doesn’t want phone calls, cameras or people (bothering him),” Bennett said. “He’s been watching me in the newspapers for the past year and he said he didn’t want that.”

At Suzy’s new home, she will spend time with two other tigers living there, Bennett said. At first she will stay in a pen of her own and may eventually be moved in with the other tigers. Tigers are solitary animals and rarely live with other tigers that are not family.

While Suzy is not living with Bennett anymore, he said will still visit her and have contact with her.

Bennett took ownership of Suzy, a three-year-old Siberian-Bengal mix, last summer. She was bred for the film industry and born in B.C., previously making her home in Cowichan Lake. Local authorities there forced her previous owner to give her up in August 2008.

Suzy lived in a 30-foot by 60-foot chain cage with a covered top on Bennett’s Millstream Road property. Suzy had a tire swing, a swimming pond and a tiger-sized dog house. The cage is double fenced, cemented into the ground and cost Bennett about $10,000.

Since her arrival in Highlands, Suzy has had an estimated 3,000 visitors and extensive media coverage.

“I have been trying to figure out what I am going to do with the cage and I still don’t know what to do with it,” Bennett said.

When Bennett agreed to take Suzy from her former owner Jaime Bell, he was told all other prospective owners wanted to kill her for her pelt.

“I managed to save her life and I moved her on to another place,” Bennett said. “Not a lot of people would go through what I went through. At least she is alive and happy.”

In December the District and Bennett filed a consent order in B.C. Supreme Court stating Suzy would be out of Highlands by June 16.

“When that day came and went, the next step by the District would be to file a contempt order,” said Chris Coates, district administrator. “A contempt order has not been filed at this time.”

Although Suzy is gone there is still a possibly that the District can charge Bennett in contempt of the consent order. Highlands council has not discussed if it plans to continue with any court action.

“Obviously this is what we’ve been trying to do for a long time. This move overdue,” said Highlands Councillor Karel Roessingh. “This is quite a relief that Dave has found her a new home.”

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