Tiger causing stir in Pakistan would be welcome back home, Ont. zoo says
By Pat Hewitt (CP) – July 30, 2009
SEAGRAVE, Ont. — A Canadian zoo and wildlife sanctuary that works with the film industry says if asked, it would be happy to take back a Siberian tiger which has caused an uproar in Pakistan.
The one-year-old male tiger was imported by the nephew of Pakistan’s former prime minister Nawaz Sharif earlier this month.
After arriving on a flight from Toronto, the big cat was reportedly taken to an air-conditioned compound at the estate of Suleman Sharif, who’s also the son of the chief minister of Punjab province.
News that the Canadian tiger was chilling while Pakistan’s residents are sweltering in a heat wave and living through power outages caused an uproar, forcing the Sharif family to reportedly hand over the tiger to the government.
A World Wildlife Fund official has said the tiger will either be housed in a public zoo in Pakistan or relocated abroad.
Jean-Luc Bureau, president of Laval, Que.-based Interzoo, which brokers exotic animal trades to zoos both in Canada and internationally, said in an interview Thursday that he had traded the tiger to the Sharif Wildlife Breeding Farm.
“The weather is very hot over there, around the 40s, and I told them this animal is not used to that for the time being, so you better put it in a place where it will be a bit cooler,” said Bureau.
He said he told them the tiger would eventually acclimatize to the warm weather. Bureau said he hasn’t been told where the animal was taken since Sharif gave up the animal, and he hasn’t been asked to take it back. However he said if Pakistan wanted to send the tiger back to him free of charge, he would be happy to place it at another zoo.
The tiger’s original owner agreed.
“If they can’t handle it, or they couldn’t take care of it and they want to ship it back to us we’d gladly take it,” said Norman Phillips of the Northwood Zoo and Animal sanctuary in Seagrave, Ont. “It’s pretty upsetting to me because we care for our animals here.”
The tiger is listed on the permit as coming originally from the non-profit Northwood zoo, which breeds animals and cares for 100 exotic animal species including tigers, lions, primates, bears, wolves, buffaloes, eagles and owls.
Phillips said he breeds his animals on order to zoos. He said he sells his tigers as cubs to brokers, who then distribute them to various zoos.
In addition to providing tours at its site north of Port Perry, Northwood also works with the film and television industry. Phillips said his bears were featured in the 1999 movie “Grizzly Falls” and in a Minute Maid commercial a couple of years ago, and his tigers have appeared in the Toronto-shot TV series “The Border”.
Phillips said if the tiger doesn’t have air conditioning, it should have a nice big cool pond it can get into and cool off.
“These are gorgeous animals that have to be well looked after. You’ve got to have the financial means to do it and the know-how,” he said.