Dec 6, 2017 Instagram begins to flag animal abuse hashtags. Now, if you search for cruel acts to do, such as #TigerSelfie Instagram pops up a notice saying “Protect Wildlife on Instagram Animal abuse and the sale of endangered animals or their parts is not allowed on Instagram. You are searching for a hashtag that may be associated with posts that encourage harmful behavior to animals or the environment.” If you type in #blackjaguarwhitetiger you get that warning now.
Hopefully this will put an end to the abusive practice of speed breeding big cats to pull their cubs for pay to play schemes and as ego props in photos and videos posted online.
Nov 14, 2017 Watchdog BJWT posted the following opinion piece and we agree that people need to just stop and think a minute, before they share those cub images, because even a few moments of thought should make people wonder why so many tiny cubs and where are they now?
A Facebook Page going by the name of “Action” posted a video of Serio with the title “This man has rescued over 300 big cats. ” This video was shared over 100,000 times. I’ve had a long think about how I’m going to address these grievous actions and I’ve come to the conclusion that I will stick to the facts and omit my more profanity filled opinions about this arsehole. Those are for another day. Let me educate you all:
This cub could aspirate on the milk in this position which could end in pneumonia or death.
1. There is no legal definition of a “sanctuary” in Mexico. There are only “private collectors” of big cats and Zoological Parks.
2. Black Jaguar White Tiger is registered as a “Zoological Entertainment Facility.” Therefore, and make no mistake about this, his facility is NOT a “sanctuary,” it is a ZOO.
3. Eduardo Serio is an ex LA Socialite who spent his years growing up in Hollywood rubbing shoulders with the rich and famous. He had shares in a company by the name of Social Reality Inc, a company worth over US$300million. Social Reality Inc is an Internet advertising and technology company. It specializes in developing tools that automate online advertising and digital marketing activities. Serio, according to Serio, sold his share portfolio to fund his Zoo. He is first and foremost, a savvy business man. He has NO knowledge or education or science background in animal husbandry, or big cat behavior and ecology. Nada.
4. He started as a “private collector” of big cats. First with a Jaguar, Cielo, then a lion, Karma and a tiger, Tieris. He shared his house in Monterrey with his three pets together with his co founder of the foundation and now ex girlfriend Rachel Brandt.
5. At that time, his social media accounts were private. His Instagram account consisted of cute videos of his three pets frolicking in swimming pools, playing in his house, with his friends, suckling pacifiers like babies, and chewing on inappropriate items which resulted in the death of Karma.
6. He hit upon the idea of making his Instagram public. Once he pushed that button, Black Jaguar White Tiger was thrust into cyberspace resulting in hundreds of thousands of followers in just a few days. The draw card being the “cutesy” videos of big cat cubs kept as pets in a mansion.
6. When he realized he was sitting on a “fame” goldmine, he upped the videos and started using the word “rescue.” You see, up until that point, he was using the word “adopt.” It just didn’t have the same impact, nor did it pull on the heartstrings of the public in the same way the word “rescue” did. Of course, as the sun rises and sets, his Instagram exploded to what it is today. Over 7 million followers, nearly all of them clueless and ignorant about the ethical management of captive wildlife. Black Jaguar White Tiger has turned into a cub petting empire.
7. PROFEPA and SEMARNAT have given him rescued circus cats. That is true, as there are NO other facilities available to house them other than zoos which are already filled to capacity. The officials were quite impressed with his fame and social media standing. Both government agencies have no idea about the ethical keeping of apex predators and have positioned Serio as Mexico’s foremost expert of big cats. Think about that. A man with no background, education or science.
8. Once BJWT was established, Serio began bringing in more and more cubs. ALWAYS small, nursing cubs. Even with the ban on circus animals, the number one cat “rescued” at BJWT is nursing cubs. If you all go far enough back in his Instagram feed, you’ll find numerous cubs, newborns still with their umbilical cords attached, accompanied with Serio’s bizarre reasons why he has “rescued” them. “The mothers abandoned them, the mothers can’t nurse them, they are runts, they are inbred and have problems.” This list of make believe reasons is regurgitated numerous times when new cubs appear. Same old story, different days. In essence, Serio is a private pet owner, who “claims” to have “rescued” dozens and dozens of big cat cubs, whom he has then used to induce people to follow his social media sites. Without these nursing cubs, Serio’s powerful presence on social media would not be what it is today. How is it that new born cubs magically appear, like clock work, when the previous batch has reached a certain age and can no longer be housed in the mansion? Please use your cognitive thinking when trying to search for an answer. Think about that.
9. Everyone must use an objective gaze when looking at conservation, and apply it here. What functional impact on the protection of wild jaguars does a video of a man pushing a jaguar cub around in a child’s push-car toy have? Nothing. That video is a video of a man playing with his pet. It has, literally, no effect on, or connection to, the protection of existing wild species. But Serio uses the hashtag #protectjaguars and claims that his video of himself playing with his pet somehow promotes “conservation”. This is his gimmick, his schtick. He claims to “raise awareness” via his social media, and yet the only awareness he raises is for his own interactions with his animals.
10. In the public eye BJWT and Serio are the “new face” of conservation, which consists of giving cats a home once they’ve been rescued, but to those of us actively working in conservation–and trying desperately to get the public to care about WILD big cats currently living in wild habitats–Serio is nothing more than false advertising. Nothing he does, or says, helps WILD populations, and all the attention he gets comes from captive bred animals, which were captivity bred just so he could use them to get attention. He is literally actively ADDING to the problem of native big cats, while claiming to solve problems in the wild.
11. There is a long laundry list of questionable methods and practices at BJWT. The mixing of big cat species takes top spot. Here is a fantastic article describing this flawed practice Serio forces on his cats. Please educate yourselves: https://www.facebook.com/notes/bjwt-watchdog/why-idealistic-communes-are-both-legendary-and-almost-non-existent/2007238446165632/
12. Cub-petting is, by definition, something done for, and benefiting only to, the humans who are doing the petting. A big cat literally has no need to ever be held by human hands. This is the sort of objective gaze with which conservation must be viewed, with the questions of “How does this animal, and future wild populations benefit from what’s going on?” and “Is this being done for the animal alone?” always in the back of your mind. When you apply those questions to situations like very small cubs being used for photo props, or in situations where customers can pay to hold and play with them, the the fact that those cubs are being bred and produced solely to be used to make money through charging customers a price to play with them is obvious. In the case of BJWT, his celebrity friends are pushing the idea that handling big cats is a “normal” practice and does have conservation value. IT DOES NOT. BJWT HAS NO CONSERVATION VALUE WHATSOEVER.
13. Serio has inspired other foundations which are being actively established, such as Malkia Park in Slovakia, which interact with their cats just like Serio does, and whom Serio supports. But again, these places are breeding cats, and allowing the public to interact with them in order to make money, and they have, literally no impact on actual conservation, aside from the fact that they’re changing the public’s perception of it. People are now coming to think that to go to these parks, and play with the animals is supporting conservation of wild species. And just like the Tiger Temple in Thailand, which commodified their animals, together with other facilities which engage in these same practices, are damaging conservation efforts world wide. The greatest damage being done to wild animals today is the commodification of conservation.
THANK YOU. by Watchdog BJWT
How can anyone be a follower of Eddie Serio when they see him kick a small cat and mock the cat’s worried owner in this video? https://www.facebook.com/astiffany
We get a lot of questions about Black Jaguar White Tiger, asking if it is a legitimate sanctuary. We don’t think so for the reasons listed below.
Sadly, it’s starting to become popular among animal lovers, despite their extremely unprofessional practices. Like not knowing how to bottle feed a cub and having her blow milk out her nose, which leads to pneumonia:
Black Jaguar White Tiger is a newly-founded private “rescue” for big cats, which started about a year or so ago in a wealthy area of Mexico City. It’s owned and operated by a Mr. Eduardo Serio. While he seems to have good intentions, they are paired with some very questionable practices.
Serio appears to “rescue” his animals by buying them from circuses and private zoos, usually as young cubs. Very young cubs. Cubs that still have a lot of lucrative weeks left in them for the abusers. This, of course, is a counterproductive strategy in the long run, because it only encourages the bad breeders to keep breeding. He claims to have “saved” over 30 cats in his first year of operation, which is scary. I know he probably wants to “save them all”, but at that rate, things are going to get out of hand very quickly. Unless he has a lot of resources or learns to say “no”, I’m worried it’s going to turn into a hoarding situation. Serio supposedly has 100 acres of land, but the enclosures are already starting to look pretty crowded, if this video is anything to go by.
Serio states that he does not spay or neuter his animals. My best guess for the reason, given his other opinions, is that he probably believes that it is “cruel” to do so because it would deny them the “natural life” he’s trying to provide (some domestic pet owners still believe this). Unsurprisingly, his cats appear to be breeding like rabbits. On July 16, he posted a video on Facebook of a new litter of lion cubs. In response Serio has said that someday he will use contraceptives, but there are no safe contraceptives for use in big cats. Any zoo can tell you horror stories (if they are honest with you) about the cancers and other health issues that are caused by using pharmaceutical solutions to over breeding.
If you are running a sanctuary and want the cats to not breed and live long happy, healthy lives, then you spay and neuter. Doing it when they are younger increases the cat’s ability to survive the procedure and recover, so there is no excuse not to do it, especially if you have males and females living together.
And in this video, a poor lion can’t even eat without having 3 young tigers trying to steal his food (although I don’t know the origin of the tigers – they may have been “rescued” (i.e. bought). Unlike other breeders, however, Serio does not sell cubs because he firmly believes that nobody should “own” an animal. Nobody except him, of course, because he “loves” them. So all of the cubs are just piling up at his ranch and causing serious overcrowding issues. While he does occasionally invite people (especially famous people) to pet them, he hasn’t turned it into a business… yet. He really seems to hate the people who breed cubs for photo props, having “rescued” several malnourished cubs from photo displays. However, his site does mention that he is planning a “volunteer” program, which conjures up images of those places in South Africa where people essentially pay to play with big cats.
By far, the biggest problem I have with Serio’s new “Foundation” is that it’s constantly churning out photos and videos on Instagram and Facebook. I’m sure you’re well aware of this, but these photos show Serio patting adult lions on the head, “play-wrestling” with tigers, pushing jaguars around in wheelbarrows, hugging lionesses, and other inappropriate (and unsafe) behaviors. He even has videos of exotic cats living peacefully in his house like a pet, which only encourages the pet trade. Serio (and his followers) often refer to the cats as “kids”, and visitors to the ranch are invited to “play” with 500-lb. adult lions – not a good idea.
Serio claims on his website that the reason his cats don’t attack people (and I’m not making this up) is “the bond of pure and innocent love that keeps us living harmoniously among one another”. It’s the very same fantasy that has doomed so many big cats to life as “pets” – people so desperately want to believe that as long as they have “love”, everything will be OK.
Hundreds of the people who have been mauled and killed by captive big cats thought they were special too and thought that their love for their big cat “friends” was all they needed. http://bigcatrescue.org/big-cat-attacks/
Of course, gaggles of well-meaning animal lovers (the same kind who would fall for cub-petting schemes) have nothing but praise for Serio and his “amazing bond.” They think that this is the way a real sanctuary is run, to say nothing of the hundreds who express their wishes for their very own pet big cat, or at least the chance to touch one. An ironic message for Serio to be sending, since he says he doesn’t believe that animals should be property.
We reached out to Serio a year or more before this post, because we thought he was doing himself a huge disservice by posing with cubs. We told him that no animal protection group would accept him or even think him a good person unless he stopped acting in such a hypocritical way. We tried to reason with him and didn’t expose him for a long time because we thought he was just foolish and not trying to be cruel. We could not continue to ignore him though when he began trotting celebrities through and having them pose with cubs because people will stupidly mimic celebrities without thinking about the consequences for the cats. We really tried to be nice and still want him to do the right thing.
Overall, I’d say that Black Jaguar White Tiger is nothing more than an ego project from a well-meaning, but seemingly delusional man. He often posts about the “horrible conditions” his cats came from and about how “happy” they are to live with him – and his followers eat it up, calling him an “angel” and praising him profusely for “saving” the animals. And of course, the celebrity snapshots and cute cub pictures have made him a rising star on Instagram. But I don’t think he’s only in it for the glory – he genuinely seems to think he’s “saving the world” by “rescuing” every circus cub in Mexico.
Sadly, like so many animal hoarders, he can’t see the harm he’s doing. This situation is only going to get worse, I’m afraid, especially with the lack of laws in Mexico regarding exotic animals as pets.
When Big Cat Rescue’s founder and CEO was in Mexico in 2015, Eduardo refused to speak to her or allow her to step foot on the property, because he knows that we do not condone posing with big cats. What else does he have to hide?
Oct 5, 2017 Today, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services announced it has filed suit against Dade City’s Wild Things, a zoo in Dade City, and three of its corporate officers. The department seeks to shut down fundraising efforts by Dade City’s Wild Things based on the department’s investigation involving illicit fundraising and financial issues.
Based on the department’s investigation, Stearns Zoological Rescue and Rehab Center Inc. and Dade City’s Wild Things Inc. solicited contributions, purportedly for the purpose of caring for animals at the zoo and for broader, in-field conservation efforts. However, nonprofit funds were routinely transferred to the for-profit entity, Stearns Peat C Inc. A financial analysis of one year showed over $200,000 of nonprofit funds were transferred to the for-profit entity. Randall Stearns, Kathryn Stearns and Kenneth Stearns are corporate officers and/or directors of the listed entities and acted in concert to solicit contributions.
Based on the department’s investigation, the defendants allegedly violated Chapter 496, Florida Statutes, by:
Transferring large amounts of nonprofit funds to a for-profit entity to be used for for-profit and personal expenses;
Compensating corporate officers and directors after disclosing that such persons were uncompensated in their official filings with the department;
Soliciting contributions without being registered with the department (even after receiving a cease and desist order);
Falsely stating that contributions were tax deductible when their 501(c) status had been revoked years before;
Failing to apply contributions in a manner consistent with that indicated in solicitations;
Failing to provide documents requested by the department; submitting false information in response to an investigation; and
Allowing a disqualified individual to be involved in solicitation efforts and to handle contributions.
Despite direct court order forbidding Kathy Stearns from disposing of the 22 tigers, she apparently sends them to GW Zoo in Oklahoma on either the evening of July 14 or sometime on July 15, 2017. See the court order. Joe Schreibvogel admits during his Facebook LIVE broadcast that the 19 tigers who arrived on July 16, 2017 were from Kathy Stearns. He later took the video off Facebook.
(CN) – People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has set its sights on a private Florida zoo that allows visitors personal interaction with cute and cuddly tiger cubs.
In a federal lawsuit filed in Tampa, PETA claims Dade City’s Wild Things and its owners are violating the Endangered Species Act.
The complaint, peppered with eyewitness accounts and references to previous federal violations, takes aim at the zoo’s programs that allow patrons to handle, pet and swim with tiger cubs. Read PeTA vs Dade City Wild Things
Dade City’s Wild Things holds more than 200 animals, including primates and reptiles, on 22 acres of land in Pasco County, Florida.
Among its draws are opportunities for up-close interactions with tiger cubs, baby alligators and monkeys, including a chance to swim with them.
Under Florida law, patrons can only have contact with tigers under 25 pounds.
The zoo’s owners — Kathryn Stearns and her son, Randall Stearns — are also named as defendants.
According to the lawsuit, Dade City’s Wild Things staff forced cubs to interact with patrons by forcibly grabbing the animals and not allowing them to escape.
PETA also claims the cubs are prematurely separated from their mothers and suffer under bad conditions.
“The Endangered Species Act prohibits harming and harassing tigers,” said Brittany Peet, PETA’s director of captive animal law enforcement. “They are putting profit over the animals’ lives.”
By separating the cubs from mothers — as early as three weeks, according to the complaint — the zoo is setting the tigers up for a “lifetime of cruelty,” Peet said.
Once the cubs are too large to play with, she added, they are relegated to tiny enclosures or sold to other “roadside attractions.”
“As a result there are untold thousands — some put the number at 10,000 — of grown tigers in the U.S. completely unregulated,” Peet said. “Meanwhile, tigers are endangered in the wild.”
Since 2010, the U.S. Agriculture Department has issued several official warnings to the zoo for alleged violations ranging from inadequate shelter and veterinary care to mishandling of the tigers.
In these warnings federal regulators detailed several instances of alleged mistreatment of the tiger cubs, including the painting of their fur. On one occasion, Stearns pulled a tiger’s tail and held him up by his neck, the department said.
After learning of this last incident, the Agriculture Department filed an administrative complaint against the zoo under the Animal Welfare Act, the complaint says.
“Despite having received multiple inspection reports identifying noncompliance with the regulations and failures to comply with the standards, and the receipt of an official warning, respondent has continued to mishandle animals, particularly infant and juvenile tigers, exposing these animals and the public to injury, disease, and harm,” the government says.
That litigation (see below) is still pending.
In addition to the extensive regulatory record, PETA also cites eyewitness accounts, including one from a former employee, of alleged abuse at the attraction.
End the abuse by ending private ownership of big cats at BigCatAct.com
“Over many months, witnesses observed Dade City’s Wild Things staff repeatedly holding onto and pulling the tiger cubs by the cubs’ tails; grabbing the cubs by the skin on the back of their necks; pulling them by the front feet; pinching their ears and nose; and even slamming their bodies to the ground,” the complaint says.
PASCO COUNTY, Fla. -A Pasco County man who helps run a popular zoo is facing sexual misconduct charges involving children. Randy Stearns calls himself “The Tiger Man.” He is listed on the web as President and Head Trainer for Dade City’s Wild Things. But now the Tampa native is facing disturbing charges in St. Charles County, Missouri. According to a grand jury indictment, Stearns exposed himself to three girls under the age of 15 on June 25th, 2016.
The indictment filed in September lists eight counts of sexual misconduct alleged to have happened at the Embassy Suites hotel where Stearns was staying for a convention. It says Stearns exposed himself as the girls got off the elevator and headed towards their room. According to investigators, the victims went back in the hallway 10 minutes later and Stearns was still there with his penis exposed through the zipper of his jeans.
The victims say he tired to get closer to them and kept talking to them. During the investigation, it was reported Stearns exposed himself in his room to someone only identified by initials. This incident allegedly happened earlier in the evening. Stearns has been in the public eye in recent years as Dade City Wild Things made headlines for its close encounter attraction with baby tigers. That includes the controversial practice of swimming with them.
The gravity of the violations alleged in this complaint is great, involving multiple failures to handle animals carefully and to provide access for inspection.
February 23, 2012 The Official Warning stated: “After providing you with an opportunity for a hearing, we may impose civil penalties of up to $10,000, or other sanctions, for each violation described in this Official Warning. Although we generally pursue penalties for this type of violation(s ), we have decided not to pursue penalties in this instance so long as you comply, in the future, with laws that APHIS enforces.”
5. Respondent has not shown good faith. Despite having received multiple inspection reports identifying noncompliance with the Regulations and failures to comply with the Standards, and the receipt of an Official Warning, respondent has continued to mishandle animals, particularly infant and juvenile tigers, exposing these animals and the public to injury, disease, and harm.
If you have first hand knowledge of abuse at Dade City Wild Things please contact:
COLLEEN A. CARROLL Attorney for Complainant Office of the General Counsel United States Department of Agriculture 1400 Independence Avenue, S.W. Room 2343 South Building Washington, D.C. 20250-1400 Telephone (202) 720-6430 Fax (202) 690-4299 email@example.com
The vet for Dade City’s Wild Things, who defended her at trial, is Dr. Don Woodman of Safety Harbor.
News Reports Based on USDA’s Lawsuit Against Kathy Stearns’ Dade City Wild Things
Kathy Stearns got international attention for her pay to play scheme whereby tiger cubs are pushed into water over their heads so that they will swim to the paying customer and cling for dear life. The only good to come of this is that it also drew international attention to the fact that USDA and the Florida Wildlife Commission have allowed this kind of cruel treatment. The outcry has been loud and fierce, and maybe now the government will do their jobs of enforcing animal welfare laws.
The most obvious problem with this activity is that exploiters have to have a constant supply of cubs that are small enough to use for petting, photo and swim with the tigers type commerce. So where do the cubs end up when they get too big to use?
Here is the story that the news should be researching: During an inspection in May 2012, the USDA counted 12 tigers. Four months later, in September 2012, the USDA counted 19 tigers. The cubs who were being used in the Good Morning America piece that aired 10/9/12 were Tony, the youngest tiger who was screaming for help during the interview, and Tarzan who was far too big to be used for this sort of activity, but on a leash, in the pool, none the less.
In late 2011 the cubs being used for pay to play and swim with the tigers were name Rauri and Rajha. On Oct 4, 2010 the 20 lb white tiger cub was named Diamond. Wondering where they are now? Probably in these barren, muddy cages at Dade City’s Wild Things:
End the abuse by ending private ownership of big cats at BigCatAct.com
This unsolicited letter reported conditions that we think are deplorable. What is most concerning is that USDA has been copied and has yet to do anything about it.
“Last month (June 2015) I went on a one-day group bus trip to WILD THINGS in Dade City, FL. We took their “Jungle Safari Ride” and what we saw was enough to make us sick! The place was nothing like your facility.
There was cage after cage of big cats, mostly Bengal tigers, kept in pathetic condition. A large Siberian tiger was kept in a cage with no shelter from the searing Florida sun or the torrential afternoon thunderstorms and recent flooding with not even a wooden deck He was laying in mud!
A surplus of other tigers were in cages on cement slabs with a barrel type shelter that could only hold one animal at a time. In a cage by itself, a young tiger had access to an in-ground kiddie pool filled with cloudy, green water.
In another area were ponies and a donkey. Although there was shade, all of these animal’s ribs were visible. Driving on, we saw a rectangular cage housing 4 coyotes. The cage was set up in the sun on a cement slab. The cage was divided by a closed fence. 2/3 of the area was occupied by 2 coyotes with no shelter and the other 1/3 was occupied by 2 coyotes and two “dog houses” taking up most of the area. These poor creatures were forced to run back and forth in their own urine and feces. The odor was horrific and they all seemed to be frantic.
NONE OF THE ANIMALS ABOVE HAD WATER IN THEIR CAGES!!!
As we moved along we saw two different species of foxes displayed in a cage on the back of a pickup truck. There was also no water and shelter for only one fox. The trolley then passed a large, fenced area and we were told that it was a sinkhole. The water in this sinkhole was stagnant with green stuff all over the top and probably breeding millions of mosquitos. Around the narrow edge of this sinkhole, were two llamas. Their drinking water was beneath the green stuff. With recent flooding, they probably already drowned. We saw cages of small monkeys and baboons with no enrichments or water. A lone zebra with an open neck wound was housed in a pen. Two ring tailed lemurs were kept in a small cage with shelter for only one at a time. We were told at the beginning of our tour that we were not allowed to take pictures. The guide emphasized
NO PHOTOS OR YOU WILL BE ASKED TO LEAVE!
Most of the animals were suffering from cage syndrome, mindlessly pacing back and forth. We didn’t go to the Petting Zoo so I don’t know what conditions prevailed in that area.
I emailed PETA and they replied that they contacted the USDA and advised me to do the same thing, which I did. I sent a letter to the I Team Investigators at ABC-TV Action News, the Dade City and Pasco County Humane Societies, The St Petersburg Times and the Humane Society of the United States, vets at both Lowry Park Zoo and Busch Gardens without any response to date. Enclosed is the reply from PETA.
I posted a blurb on Travel Advisor and it is there for all to see, along too many others who shared my experience. Can you direct me to somewhere or someone who can bring this blatant abuse to and end now?
I am a Florida resident also and this is happening in our back yard! Take a ride on the “Jungle Safari Ride” and see for yourself. This place must be shut down and the animals placed in a more humane setting. These regal and innocent animals are languishing in a living hell and if we don’t do something….who will?
Thank you for your time and I look forward to a favorable response.
Very truly yours, ******”
Note: We withheld the name and contact info of this person, but they revealed it to the authorities and have asked the authorities to contact them.
You can help!
Do you remember other names of cubs who were used at Dade City’s Wild Things? If so, please put the name, tiger or lion, and the year the animal was a cub in the comments section below.
Kathy Stearns Zoo Slapped with Official Warning Letter from USDA
Cited for improper fencing, inadequate veterinary care and improper cub handling among other things.
Despite warning Dade City’s Wild Things began hyping a new baby tiger and encouraging people to book their Swim with a Tiger exploit between august 30 through September 15. 2012 before the pool water gets too cold. If you know where she got this cub from, please post in the comments below.
On April 11, 2012 Dade City’s Wild Things was offering pay to play with three female tiger cubs who they said had been born three weeks prior.
On Aug 30, 2012 Dade City’s Wild Things was offering pay to play with a new tiger cub, saying that they could only do so until Sept 2012.
In an effort to catalog all of the cubs they have bred or bought for this purpose, please note in the comments section if you know dates when they had cubs for public contact.
We wouldn’t suggest eating there either
DCWT regularly purchases tiger and lion cubs and exploits them to make money. The cubs are taken from their mothers shortly after birth by the breeders. This is a torment to both mother and cub, like it would be to any mammal species. Then, once Stearns gets them, a former volunteer who was charged with walking them reports on what she was told to do as follows: “The cub was playful. It wanted to play bite, jump on my leg. I was told that if it did that I was to grab it by the scruff and toss it to the ground and hold it there. All training was by punishing physically.” Stearns makes money from the cubs numerous ways. She carts them out to fairs or other venues where the cubs are awakened repeatedly for anyone who will pay to pet them or take photos with them. At her “zoo”, she charges for “encounters”. One kind of encounter involves forcing the cub into a swimming pool so paying customers can swim with the cub. Cubs don’t like holding still for petting sessions and photo opportunities. The swimming solves that problem for Stearns because the cubs has to swim for dear life. And, Stearns can charge much more for this.
Stearns claims it is legal to use the cubs this way until they are 40 pounds. Under Florida Wildlife Conservation Commission rules, if the employee relinquishes control, i.e. let’s you hold the cub, the legal weight is 25 pounds. Meantime, Stearns blatantly violates the federal policies established by USDA that cubs cannot be used for petting under 8 weeks old because their immune systems are not sufficiently developed and over 12 weeks old because they are dangerous. Unfortunately, enforcement of these rules is almost nonexistent. Stearns was finally cited by USDA for causing stress to cubs during pay to play swimming sessions on p/14/12. This was a repeat violation for improper animal handling.
In addition to exploiting the animals to make money and then keeping them in miserable conditions, Stearns has consistently demonstrated a lack of financial integrity and responsibility. She has been arrested for passing bad checks (Sept 7, 2011 Kathy Stearns’ Worthless Check Case) and individuals formerly associated with the facility indicate this has been a recurring practice. We are told she owes back pay to at least one former employee. Tax deeds have been issued for her failure to pay tax on the property (Kathryn Stearns Tax Warrant May 2011. More importantly and significantly for the future of the animals, the zoo property has been in foreclosure for years, with the proceedings delayed by a series of bankruptcy filings by Stearns and other individuals and entities (April 27, 2010 Kathryn P Stearns Foreclosure).
What happens after the cubs are too old to pet? They end up spending the rest of their lives in misery living in tiny cages.
Below is a video showing the abusive treatment of the cubs and how they live after Stearns can no longer exploit them to make money.
Below is one visitor’s detailed description of the misery they saw at Dade City’s Wild Things
A friend and I recently visited Dade City’s Wild Things. What we saw was amazing, in this day and age, but certainly NOT in a good way. Maybe if I recount our trip there, you’ll understand why.
At the converted gift shop, Mr. Stearns loaded up about 20 guests onto their trolley car for transportation to their home and “zoo” a few miles away. Each guest paid $22.95 for the tour and the majority eagerly paid another $20 for an “animal encounter” with a white tiger cub or a baby snow monkey to be included after the tour. There are no cameras or video cameras or filming of any kind allowed on the tour. When asked why, we were told that it’s because of those PETA people. They said that they have to remain constantly vigilant because those animal activists can always make trouble for them. I was soon to find out why.
Arriving at their home and surrounding grounds, your first impression is of beautiful rolling hills, towering oak trees hundreds of year’s old, lush, green landscapes. Then you begin to notice the cages. Though roosters, chicks, and dogs roam freely throughout their land, the animals that were born to do so have miniscule amounts of territory to call their own.
Kathy Stearns, the proprietor, gave the tour. Having served as a Florida Fish and Wildlife Technical Advisory Committee member, she believes strongly in private ownership and is against all bans. As she says on her blog, “I am proud of standing up for all exotic owners’ rights. (Serving on this committee) It sparked a great desire to work in spreading legislature(sic) issues because I experienced firsthand on(sic) how quickly our rights can be removed in working with non human primate owners in various other states like Pennsylvania where there is a ban on private ownership of non human primates.”
For a woman with a lifelong passion for wild animals and a beautiful piece of Florida property, we were expecting to see a collection of animals benefitting from both. How shocking to see the size of the cages where these animals spend every day of their lives. The first Old World and New World monkeys she introduced us to, no matter their size, looked like they were living in approx. 10’x10’ cages that many shared with others. No vegetation, no trees, no heights to climb. A plastic hanging baby swing was all that 2 monkeys had to play with in their small cage. The 2 baboons we saw much later in the tour looked as if they were living in a cell like we used to see in old, rundown zoos decades ago. Their human- like faces definitely betrayed the sadness of their captivity.
The hills were dotted with small, minimum size chain link cages. Two servals were on display in a 6’x12’ cage, most of their space taken up with a makeshift pool. The roosters and chicks clucked their way happily through the ferns and plants outside the serval cage while the servals couldn’t even be coaxed out to view. Though we were told they could jump 12-14’ in the wild, these 2 were contained in a cage that couldn’t have been 6’ high. Again, the irony of seeing something so majestic with so much agility in the wilds of Africa yet here contained in one of the smallest cages I’ve seen….but there was more to come.
Ahead and up a hill, we saw a large metal building with many chain link cages attached to it. We thought that surely these animals must have it better? They must have indoor AND outdoor facilities? This is where the big cats are housed. But, we were told that it was a maintenance and equipment building with no access for the animals. On one side of the building, 2 full grown Florida panthers are housed together in a long, skinny, dirt floor cage that looked to be about 10’x30’ and was attached to the side of the metal building with a low roof. There is a mural painted on the side of the building depicting typical Florida life with alligators and marshes. How I wished that was what life really consisted of for this unfortunate duo.
Around the other side of the building is where the big cats live. An enormous male lion and a female lioness live in an open-top, chain link fenced cage that had a single hot wire running along top. When someone commented how huge the animals were, all we could think of was how could they not be with so little room for exercise? Again, just a dirt floor with little, if anything, to make life interesting for them. No wonder the lioness bared her teeth at Kathy when she came close to her. Someone asked if the animals were neutered and Kathy said no. We wondered, is this where the babies for the encounters come from then? But that’s another story.
Right next door to the lion cage is a duo of tigers. Kathy said one was a Bengal weighing 1000 lbs. As we stood so close, I wondered just how strong is that chain link fence between that enormous tiger and me? He ran around and around in circles while his cage mate chased him. I held my breath and hoped the cage held tight. Chain link fences vs. 1000 lb. carnivores, I didn’t want to be anywhere near that competition!
In the background, I couldn’t help but notice a small round cage. Imagine the shape of a tin can but this is about 12’ in diameter and is barren except in the middle, where 2 wooden boxes are stacked up as den boxes. This tiny cage also had 2 full grown inhabitants – 2 cougars who I imagine tire of going round and round and round their entire lives with nothing to do, nothing to explore. It looked like the definition of boredom.
Behind us was another sparse, small, low-roofed cage where 2 magnificent jaguars lived – one golden and another a luxurious, velvety black. What struck us the most about this cage was how ironic that these tall, majestic oaks towered all around and yet, these 2 jaguars were panting in the hot enclosure with so little shade for them. If we were drenched in sweat and Kathy was lingering under a water mister to cool off, how hot must that black fur coat be for that jaguar? Though we had heard that Cypress Gardens closed down and their jaguar Sheba was transferred here, we didn’t see her. We were told she wouldn’t be seen on the tour. Where is she? What has happened to her? That’s all we kept thinking.
We saw a herd of deer that, honestly, had the best enclosure on the property, though it borders the street fence line. Then we saw the cages that really broke our hearts. Two beautiful black leopards were caged in a barren, long, narrow cage that had a couple of shelves mounted inside. One of the leopards was bald around his/her eyes, laid on one of the shelves, never lifted its head or moved, and stared blankly at us. Another definition for us – misery. The cage mate stood up and stretched to try to interact with Mr. Stearns. What baffled us was why weren’t these guests asking many questions, why weren’t they seeing the things we were seeing, or was it just that they were simply anticipating their moments with the babies – that’s all they really came for?
On we went to the baboon “cell” I mentioned before. They looked so human like, I couldn’t help but identify with them. I thought about how incredibly sad life would be if I were relegated to a cage like that forever? My feelings really sunk to a new low when I saw the small cage, behind theirs, that housed 2 extremely large bears. They were very social bears, coming over to the cage wall, sitting, spending time there while visitors gawked at them. At this point, it was hard not to cry, not to shout out, “doesn’t anyone else see something wrong with all of this?” But, when a guest asked “What’s your schedule for giving all these animals their baths?” and “How hard is it to bathe them?” and “What kind of animal is this?” (It was a tiger), I realized how little this group of people knew about the life these animals should be living, the space they need, the enrichment they need to stimulate their minds in captivity. I couldn’t help but wonder, “Is it still just all about the baby encounters coming up? Is that all they really care about? These other animals and the way they’re living don’t matter?”
For a minute, Kathy couldn’t remember the names of the next 2 tigers we walked over to see. I guess that was better than one of the other animals who, when asked what his name was, she said she doesn’t think he even has a name. I thought, “Not even worth naming?” At this point, everyone was hot, drained, and the 2 hours of looking at antiquated cages and sad looking animals was more than enough. But, everyone perked up when it was announced that it was now time for “Animal Encounters.”
The majority of the guests had paid and signed up for this but, even if you hadn’t, you could participate and settle up later at the conclusion of the tour. The first baby brought out was Jajay, the 7 week old baby snow monkey who was wheeled to us in a stroller wearing diapers. A very young girl had requested to play with JaJay so he was plunked down on the picnic table on a towel for her to cuddle with and play with and pose for pictures with. What if she had any respiratory illnesses or anything contagious? What a vulnerable age for this little monkey. When she was through with Jajay, and since no one else had booked time with him, he was put back in the stroller, zipped up, rolled behind the Tiki bar and left there alone while Kathy and all the other guests marched off to a small shed labeled “Nursery” for their time with Diamond, the white tiger cub caged inside. We started hearing squealing and squeaking and looked over to see JaJay very upset, looking abandoned and forgotten back there. Eventually, Kathy’s adult son came over and wheeled JaJay away. We wondered to where?
For close to half an hour, we waited while others were in the shed having their pictures taken and playing with the white tiger cub. If you didn’t pay, you didn’t play. Kathy had said Diamond was donated to them by an Oklahoma zoo. Donated? We wondered how true could that be? This was obviously the proverbial cash cow for “Wild Things.” In reality, it’s what everyone was here for. Mr. Stearns said that a couple drove all the way down from South Carolina the week before just for the chance to hold that little tiger since you couldn’t do it up there. How ridiculous that this is what Florida is famous for – allowing people to hold and handle something so small, so precious, a baby who should be spending this time with its mother, not manhandled by the public for profit.
We were so upset, at this point, all we wanted to do was leave but we were trapped there with no transportation of our own. We couldn’t believe our ears when one of the guests said he was a photographer with TBT (Tampa Bay Times) and he couldn’t wait to let everyone back at the newspaper know what a unique, fantastic place this is. Of course, he was also one of the guests who couldn’t wait to go hold a tiger cub, an animal whose life, at this point, is spent locked up in a small cage in a shed with people filing in and out twice a day to “play” with her.
When everyone was through with Diamond, they escorted us back to the trolley. I noticed a medium-sized cat off display pacing back and forth non-stop in what I thought was a transport type cage since it was so small. Mr. Stearns said that’s the 7 month old panther cub that you can still have interaction with, if you want. How could that be? If my housecat can inflict scratches and scars on me, what could a fully clawed panther the size of a small German Shepherd do to me? And, especially one that is so poorly caged and with nothing interesting to do but pace?
On the trolley back to the gift shop, one of the guests who went inside with Diamond said it was kind of hysterical watching Kathy grab the cub by the tail whenever Diamond tried to get away from the people. She’d yank her back and plop her back wherever she wanted her. She explained that it didn’t hurt the cub since her tail is attached to her spine and that’s how it’s done. I can’t remember ever seeing any wildlife shots of that method. Scruffing – yes, slinging a cub around by its tail – no.
The guest also mentioned that there were no pictures allowed. You had to pay for the CD they sell at the end of the tour if you want any pictures. The CD contains pictures taken by a photographer “Wild Things” has hired to photograph the animals. This guest was obviously disgruntled about that since she felt she had already paid enough to them for this experience, she wasn’t going to pay more for pictures. Yet, she never questioned why they don’t allow pictures. If everything’s on the up and up, why are they afraid of the photos guests will take and possibly share? Why must all the pictures be staged by them?
After being dropped off at the gift shop, we went to our car totally depressed thinking about how much more could be given to these animals by the Stearns since the property they have is so incredibly picturesque. There is just no excuse for the small, inadequate cages these animals are housed in. There is plenty of room to give them more space, a better quality of life. Instead, we heard that their plans are to start running a tram service on another part of the property so “the old people who start coming to Florida soon and who can’t walk” will be able to come out and pay to tour the facility. So, doesn’t that say it all? Is quality of life for the animals important or boosting attendance?
What’s also demoralizing is everything we saw is perfectly legal in Florida; tiny cages, no quality of life for these various species, “pay to play” operations using baby animals as a source of income, promotion of more and more breeding, a continuous flow of animals who will have no future quality of life, and teaching people by example that animals deserve nothing better than this. I’ll never get the images of these animals’ faces out of my mind. They, more than any others, are “poster children” for why there should be a ban on breeding and private exotic animal ownership.
After this visit, it’s obvious that the Stearns have basic philosophical differences with my friend and I. They see these animals as a treasure chest. Quite the opposite, we see these animals as something to be treasured. Sept. 2010
Despite all of their financial woes they continue to add to the problem by buying more and more lion and tiger cubs to use as photo props. On May 16th, 2012 they announced, “Dade City’s Wild Things has just added another tiger cub to the three that were born six weeks ago. We are doing the full encounter schedule with them…” Added from where? Sue Pearce’s Myrtle Island Ranch in Okeechobee or GW Exotic Animal Park perhaps?
After the tigers were forced to perform in the Nerger’s circus act, this white tiger was confined to a tiny cage so guests could take photos. How in the world is taking a photo in front of a caged white tiger educational for these children?
“Nerger’s Splendid Tigers” is an old-school circus act that’s billed as the largest traveling tiger show in the United States. The Nerger Show features one dozen tigers which are forced to jump through flaming hoops, form pyramids, play leapfrog, and “dance.” The act is run by Judit and Juergen Nerger, a pair of German tiger trainers who have worked in circuses throughout eastern Europe for nearly 30 years before coming to the United States. Over the years, the Nergers and their tiger show have worked at the infamous Cole Bros. Circus, the Tarzan Zerbini/Royal Canadian Circus, and many small “shrine circuses” across the country. They also perform at fairs and festivals.
The Nergers are currently employed by John Cuneo’s notorious Hawthorn Corporation, a shadowy group with a history of severe animal abuse that leases exotic animal acts to traveling circuses. Hawthorn has racked up over $272,000 in federal fines and had their USDA license suspended twice for over 100 Animal Welfare Act violations. These including failure to provide veterinary care to sick animals, housing pairs of tigers in 6 foot long travel cages for weeks at a time, attacks by tigers on staff (one of which allegedly involved a tiger being beaten with baseball bats), providing the head and skin of a white tiger to an individual who wanted to make a rug out of the parts, and using nothing but a single thin rope as a “barrier” between the public and adult tigers. Although the Nergers themselves have their own USDA exhibitor’s license (#33-C-0452), their tigers are owned by the Hawthorn Corporation, and are housed at Hawthorn’s Illinois facility when not on the road, raising serious concerns about the conditions the animals live in when not performing.
The Nerger tigers were trained in 2002-3 at the Hawthorn facility by Luis and Marcia Palacio, a team of Mexican trainers who traveled the world in the 1980s with a “mixed act” featuring tigers, lions, leopards, and hyenas. Once the cats were suitably trained, Wade Burck (a circus trainer who once admitted to whacking animals with 2x4s because “they aren’t capable of thinking like I do”) mentored the Nergers in their “presentation methods” and accompanied them to their first few shows.
In this video of the performance, the body language of the cats (ears pinned back, leaning away from the whips) clearly indicates that they are fearful and stressed. Despite the persistent myth that a large animal “can’t be forced to do something it doesn’t want to do”, the motto of the circus is “the show must go on.” In a 2011 interview for a local newspaper, the Nergers admitted that their tigers are naturally solitary creatures and only appear to “get along” while in the ring “because they know we are there”. They also stated that every tiger is made to participate in every performance, even if it is in a “bad mood” that day.
More about the Nerger’s
Cubs too small to perform being housed in the back lot of a 2009 Maine circus.
Interview with the Nergers from the Sherando Times
22 years with really big cats
A trainer opens up about tigers, PETA and constant danger
by Dan McDermott
April 27, 2011
Juergen Nerger and his wife Judit have been working with big cats for more than twenty years. They headline this year’s Cole Bros. Circus.
For more than 30 years, Juergen and Judit Nerger have thrilled audiences with their big cat (and occasionally bear) shows. This year, the Nergers and their tiger act will be headlining the Cole Brothers Circus in Winchester during the 2011 Apple Blossom Festival.
The Sherando Times spoke with Judit Nerger about how she got into such an unusual and dangerous line of work. Nerger told us about her life with her feline colleagues, dealing with PETA and what goes through her mind when she hears about a trainer getting mauled, sometimes fatally, while doing what she and her husband do every day.
The Sherando Times: How did you get interested and involved in performing with big cats?
Judit Nerger: Oh, that’s a long story from a long time ago. For me it just happened. My husband was working on it and we are originally from East Germany. It was different there and he was the lucky one who got picked out and got in to perform with big cats and train them.
Times: How long have you been performing in front of crowds?
Nerger: Oh gosh, I have to think about it. It’s 22 years for me and for my husband it’s already 25 years.
Times: Do you own these tigers and do you always perform with the same group?
Nerger: No, we don’t own them. The owner is somebody else. We are just always around them, taking care of them, training, performing, etc.
Times: Typically, would you have to start when they are babies?
Nerger: Not really. It is just always nice if they are at a very young age but like with these cats, they were already 3 or 4 years old when we got them. So somebody else got them and started, training them. Most of the time, they are 1-1/2 or 2 years old.
Times: So definitely you start them young.
Nerger: Yes, we start them young but sometimes you start with older ones if you don’t have any other choice. You can start with them at a very young age, even if they don’t understand what you want, but it’s all just playing around and making them understand this is where you are able to perform, finding out what they like to do which makes the training much easier because each cat has its own personality – they just have talent on specific things, you know?
Times: So really the cat dictates the show, to a degree because you discover what they like to do? Because obviously you can’t force a tiger to do something it doesn’t want to do?
Nerger: No, it’s kind of pointless to do something which he really cannot.
Times: Do you work exclusively with tigers or also lions?
Nerger: Well, we used to have a lion but we lost him a couple months ago and we are still looking around for a new one to replace him. In the past, before we came over to the United States, we worked with bears too, brown bears.
Times: I noticed that when the circus travels and you see them, the elephants will typically be put in one pen but the tigers and lions they will segregate. Is that because they don’t get along as well as some other animal species?
Nerger: Well, see a tiger in Mother Nature is always single. But lions are a different story. If you have an act with lions you can have all of them together. But with tigers, if you’re lucky you can have 4 or 5 together. But in most cases it’s like 2 by 2. That works out pretty good.
Times: Now they get along during the show. Is that because they are accustomed to each other?
Nerger: Yeah because we are always in there watching them, really not because they like each other, even if they sit right next to each other you never know. It’s just they know we are inside and they don’t have a chance to go at each other. So we have to be on top of it. We are the police in there.
Times: That’s an interesting analogy. Like you said, they have different personalities and just like people they have good days and bad days. Are there some days when one is in a bad mood and you don’t bring that tiger out that day?
Nerger: No, we take them all the time. We just go with the tiger then because before we line them up we can tell, okay this guy is in a bad mood. This female is in a bad mood or she just kind of doesn’t want to do it today. You really put your feelings in there and just keep an eye on that tiger or do this or this today because there is something going on but we aren’t leaving out any cats at any time unless they are sick.
Times: It was interesting when I saw an act 2 or 3 times. I was taking pictures of the circus and I noticed it was a very different show each day. One day they might be really active and energetic and then another day one of them might be having a lazy day but it was a very different show each time.
Nerger: Yeah, a show is never the same. Each show is different because you never know. They have moods like humans. Of course they have moods. Humans have moods and say, ‘I don’t want to do this.” It’s the same with big cats. I think with any animal it is the same because they have moods.
Times: One thing you have to ask when you talk to someone in your line of work because your line of work is potentially very dangerous and we hear stories every few years. The last one is what happened with the Siegfried and Roy show, a horrible accident. What goes through your mind when you hear something like that and what mistakes may have been made? I guess when something like that happens you learn from it?
Nerger: Yes, we do and each time something like that happens we always get a wake up call. We feel bad about what happened to the person but, I tell you what, most of the time it’s really because the trainer did a mistake. So each mistake you do [the cats] want to take advantage of it. So many, many, many times we get a wake up call and say, hey, never let it be us and then for the next couple days we’re going to be more … It’s just a weird feeling. You think you know it but sometimes it is feels like you are getting into a routine and you really shouldn’t because that’s going to cost you your life. So more, more, more attention!
Times: I remember even when [Roy] was injured, he was down and he said, ‘Don’t hurt the cat!’
Nerger: Yeah, yeah, because it’s not the cat’s fault. They are just taking advantage of it because that’s their nature. So we are saying always, the tiger is just sleeping, even if they are trained. Many people are getting it wrong. Many people think they are tame. They think they are pets and they are really not. They are just trained and the trainer has to always be on top of it. You cannot do any mistakes because the worst is going to happen.
Times: I know that the elephant folks are in a constant battle with PETA and other groups but I don’t hear too much about the other animals. Is that something you have to deal with all the time or do they leave you alone?
Nerger: Well we have to deal with it, not all the time. And you know we even have a website for that reason because I don’t want to get bothered by those people and once in a while you have people in front of the circus – they have demonstrations. Over the years you just get so used to it and it just doesn’t bother you anymore. So we aren’t even going into any arguments or discussions about it because it’s pointless. They don’t know what they are talking about. They have no idea. They don’t understand so therefore we are pretty cool about it. It’s not nice to get bothered by it but I can’t change it. They have their mind. I have my mind and that’s it. And actually with the large cats it’s not so bad as with the elephants.
Times: Yeah I was just reading that at one point there were some elephants in the Cole Bros. Circus I guess last season, and they were calling ahead to each town the circus was in to talk to the local authorities and it was just this ongoing hassle that resulted in eventually losing the elephants.
Nerger: Yeah, I know. Sometimes it’s really bad and some areas are really bad and sometimes you don’t have anything like this so it just depends. It’s very bad.
Times: Now you said you’re from East Germany. I know that the circus, it’s pretty much a novelty in The United States. A lot of kids grow up and they don’t ever get a chance to see a circus except on television. It’s a lot more popular and a bigger deal in Europe isn’t it?
Nerger: Yeah, it’s a big deal; but over the years it’s just business is not too good. To be honest, we have way too many circuses in Germany right now and people will go to circuses they know – they always have good business. But [with] small circuses or family circuses they may have had a bad experience so they aren’t going too often. It used to be a big thing, especially in East Germany because we had no entertainment really. We didn’t have all those cool movie theaters and stuff at the time so it was a big thing.
Times: It was definitely a big difference before the wall fell. A big, big difference between East Germany and what they had.
Nerger: I have a feeling that the circus business here in the U.S. is going way better than in Europe.
Times: Have you performed before in The United States?
Nerger: We have been traveling here for over 8 years now.
Brags about 8 generations of tigers being bred in his back yard in Florida. Appears to con the audience by saying that circus acts are protecting tigers from extinction. None of the tigers in private possession, like his, do anything for conservation. In fact, it hurts conservation because when people see them being used this way, they believe that tigers must not be in any danger of extinction, or it wouldn’t be allowed.
Think it would be cool to touch a cub? Then you might be interested in this shocking online review of the infamous Zoological Wildlife Foundation in Miami. In December, a family’s vacation was ruined when a large tiger cub that was “not under control” attacked their young daughter, biting her on the leg and sending her to the hospital with a nasty wound which required three stitches. The family posted photos of the girl’s injuries as well as the exact moment the cub attacked her.
May 10, 2009 As an example of where Antle’s tigers end up, in AWA Docket No. 09-0085 the judge found that Bhagavan Antle released two tigers to Ray Thunderhawk, who had already lost his USDA license and who had abandoned 75 tigers in Palm Bay, Florida. Thunderhawk ran a “pay to play” operation whereby patrons pay to pet and pose with big cats and he took the two tigers from Antle in S.C. to Boston before taking them to the buyer in Miami.
The buyer was Mario S. Tabruae of Zoological Imports 2000 located at 16225 SW 172 Av Miami, FL 33187. Tabruae admitted to falsifying records to make it look as if he had purchased directly from Antle and that Antle had delivered the tigers. Dec 12, 1987 New York Times reports that Mario S.Tabruae was arrested for:
A drug-smuggling ring that killed an informer and cut up his body while trafficking in a half-million pounds of marijuana has been broken, the Federal authorities said today. The ring also bribed police officers to protect their operation, said Richard Gregorie, the chief assistant United States Attorney here. At one time, the indictment charged, members of the ring used Miami police officers to collect, count and disburse drug profits.
The ring operated for at least 10 years, smuggling the marijuana, along with some cocaine, into Louisiana and Florida, Mr. Gregorie said. Six of the seven people indicted in the case were arrested here by a special Federal law-enforcement group combatting drug smuggling. The seventh was in custody in another state. $50,000 Caught by Agent Among those arrested were the men who the authorities said headed the ring, Mario Tabraue and his father, Guillermo. When the men were arrested at their homes in Dade County, Mario Tabraue’s wife tossed a bundle of $50,000 in cash out the back window, said Lloyd E. Dean, an agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation here. The money was caught by a Federal agent, Mr. Dean said.