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Posted on Nov 15, 2014 in Abuse, Browse by Name, Most Wanted | 1 comment

G.W. Exotics Animal Foundation Joe Schreibvogel

JOE SCHREIBVOGEL

If Joe Schreibvogel has contacted you with slanderous allegations against Big Cat Rescue, check out this million dollar settlement Joe Schreibvogel consented to in favor of Big Cat Rescue.

Researched and written by Howard Baskin JD, MBA, Advisory Board Chairman of Big Cat Rescue

Joe Schreibvogel says that he and his parents started G.W. Exotic Memorial Animal Park in memory of a brother who loved animals.

On December 10, 2010 Joe wrote on Facebook

“…another employee quit today without so much as a phone call.  …all I get is a text message that reads… My brother (g.w.) would be ashamed of what I have become”

If Joe’s brother was indeed a lover of animals, this is likely to be an understatement.

As detailed below, Joe has become one of the most notorious breeders and exploiters of tiger cubs in the world.

Joe Schreibvogel is also known individually as:

 

 Joe Exotic

Aarron Alex

Cody Ryan

 

And doing business as:

 

5 Continent Productions

Garold Wayne Interactive Zoo

G.W. Exotic Animal Foundation

G.W. Exotic Animal Park

G.W. Exotic Memorial Animal Foundation

G.W. Exotic Memorial Animal Park

Alex Productions

Awakening Productions

Awakening Rescue

Big Cat Rescue Entertainment Group

Corley’s Exotics

Mystical Magic of the Endangered

Tigers in Need

Welch’s Entertainment Group

Welch’s Tiger Experience

Welch’s Great Cat Adventure

World Magic

and others.

 

ABUSE OF TIGER CUBS

 

Joe Schreibvogel operates a roadside zoo in Oklahoma with 1400 animals, including over 150 tigers, on sixteen acres, that has a history of serious animal abuse (see below).  He generates revenue by constantly breeding tiger cubs, ripping them from their mothers shortly after birth, and abusing them by carting them around from mall to mall charging people to pet them alongside a magic show he performs.  USDA rules prohibit using the cubs for this purpose after they reach 12 weeks old.  When he can no longer use them to make money, he “donates” (or by some reports sells) them, or brings to his zoo.  In most cases these animals will at best spend their entire lives in small, prison-like cells.  Current USDA regulations permit keeping an adult tiger in a cage smaller than a parking spot. Many of his cats are sent to places with a history of animal abuse violations.

 

What is life like for these poor cubs dragged around from mall to mall for the early weeks of their lives?  Videos of the mall exhibit reveal what they endure.

 

In the video below, you can see that the cub has diarrhea.  Witnesses report this was true of at least three of the cubs.  Instead of taking the cubs off display, the attendant follows the cub with a rag.  First Beth Corley wipes the floor, then she wipes the cub’s bottom with the same rag.  The cub’s bottom is likely raw and sore from the diarrhea.  You can hear the cub scream.  You can see the video under “Sick Cubs at Mall” below.

 

Malls who allow Joe to exhibit are supporting this abuse.  If venues would not allow acts like this, the breeding and suffering would stop.  Fortunately, more and more responsible venues are making the right decision.  For instance, after a cub display at one of their stores, Petsmart recently issued a policy that there would be no exotic animal displays at their U.S. and Canada stores.  In doing so they showed that they truly care about animals.

 

Joe claims that he has to breed cubs and take them out on the traveling show in order to support the animals at his zoo.   He acknowledges that this is wrong when he says in a Facebook post that he does not want to do this but is “forced to” in order to make money to support the animals at the zoo.  Joe is only forced to do this as a result of his own bad decisions and lack of caring for animals.

 

Joe’s latest argument to justify his rampant breeding (which he calls “selective”) is that he is doing a public service because by supplying a cub to every zoo and exhibitor who wants a tiger, he is putting out of business the “back yard breeders.”  This is a little bit like John Dillinger claiming he was doing public service by putting other bank robbers out of business because he had robbed all the banks.  It does not matter who is breeding tigers to make money from cubs and then discarding them to a life of misery.  It is just wrong.

 

The fact is that real sanctuaries all around the country are able to support their rescue and animal care work without adding to the problem by breeding and without abusing animals to make money.  They do that by operating facilities that have excellent animal care that donors appreciate and want to support.  They also do that by being financially responsible and not taking in more animals than they can support.

 

The fact that true sanctuaries all of over the country do support their animals without tormenting innocent cubs proves that it can be done.  If Joe cannot do the right thing for the animals, he should not be collecting them. If real sanctuaries around the county are capable of doing this, why can’t Joe?

 

Joe’s website says his zoo was started in 1999 as a way to honor his deceased brother, who reportedly loved animals.  Joe could have done exactly that.  He could have built a real sanctuary by taking in animals and giving them the kind of care that would have touched the hearts of donors who would have supported him like other real sanctuaries have done.  He says on his website that in 2005 he “grew away from the word ‘Sanctuary’ … because everyone wanted to dictate how you run a business as a sanctuary, but no one wanted to help pay the bills.”

 

Regarding having others “dictate”, yes, to be a real sanctuary, you have to meet certain standards of animal care. The animal abuse documented in USDA violations from 2000 to 2004, discussed below, shows he never was a sanctuary.  He could have invested time in learning the skills needed to run a true sanctuary, including how to run the financial side of a nonprofit.  He could have built a place that would have been a true tribute to a deceased animal lover.  He did not.

Young Children Bitten at GW Park

Before going into the details about Joe’s exploitation and lies, below are three videos taken in September 2011 by visitors to GW Park.  According to a USDA Fact Sheet, cubs under 8 weeks old should not be petted because their immune systems have not sufficiently developed to prevent disease.  Separately, USDA guidance forbids petting cubs over 12 weeks of age because they are dangerous.  (See 2010 in the Palazzo case upholding USDA position established in 2004).

In these three short videos you see GWPark employees blatantly violating these USDA policies and endangering the cubs and the public.  In the videos the handlers acknowledge that the cubs are 14, 15, 16, 19 or 20 weeks old.  In one video you hear the handlers laughing about a child being bitten by one of the overage cubs and being taken in to see under age cubs to appease the family.  Remarkably, just one week later, with a handler lying by saying “we have never had an incident,”  the video shows a young child jumped on and bitten by a 20 week old cub.  After that, even though in both videos the handlers talk about the smaller cubs having weak immune systems which makes public contact dangerous for them, the park manager brings out a tiny two week old cub to appease the crowd.  He allows two and three people to grope at the cub at a time.  He only stops when the poor cub, who is so young that its eyes are not even open yet, starts squealing loudly and desperately tries to climb away to avoid the petting.

As a practical matter, USDA inspectors are never going to see the animals mistreated or see animals that are too young or too old being used this way.  The inspectors do not do undercover work, they announce themselves on arrival.  An individual who worked at GW Park tells us that when the inspector arrives, someone at the park announces “USDA on the property” and some individuals are assigned to delay the inspectors while others run around filling water bowls and stop any behavior that could result in citation.  As you watch the tiny cub squealing in discomfort and fear in the third video, knowing that each of the hands you see groping at him is a threat to his infant weak immune system, and as you hear the handlers in the first video chuckle about a child being bitten, and as you see Schreibvogel in the video at the top of this page strike a tiny cub with a pole and say “just pop ‘em in the ass,” ask yourself if you think Joe Schreibvogel is someone who loves animals.  Does someone who loves animals torment tiny cubs to make money?   And if you are a venue that permits his traveling exhibit to set up in your mall or fair, aside from the potential liability, is this kind of treatment of animals what you want to support?

Underage Cubs Used to Appease Crowd After Child Bitten

 

Sick Cubs at Mall

 

 

 

 

Joe Schreibvogel Exposed by Inside Edition

 

 

HISTORY OF ANIMAL ABUSE

 

USDA VIOLATIONS

 

Instead of creating a sanctuary, Joe created a facility that in its early years, 2000 – 2004, was cited repeatedly by USDA for serious violations of the minimum standards of the Animal Welfare Act.  USDA has limited enforcement resources.  They can only take a few animal abusers to court, so they reserve that for only the most blatant cases.  Typically they will issue citations for years, giving the licensee every opportunity to correct the out of compliance conditions before they consider filing a lawsuit. After years of citations they finally sued Joe.  In April 2005 the agency filed a 20-page complaint against Joe with numerous charges, including the following:

* Failure to provide adequate veterinary care
* Failure to handle animals so that there was minimal risk of harm to the animal and to the public
* An incident in which a tiger escaped from his enclosure and attacked and seriously wounded a camel
* Transportation of 15 tigers and lions in a manner that allowed urine, feces, or both to contaminate the animals caged below
* Lack of potable water for 18 lions, 23 tigers, 15 bears, 20 cougars, three leopards, and a pig
* Lack of employees present to provide care to 80 large, dangerous cats
* Lack of knowledge by employees about how often the animals were fed
* Filthy, wet, unsafe, and dilapidated enclosures
* Failure to handle animals in a manner that does not cause trauma, behavioral stress, physical harm, or unnecessary discomfort
* Failure to provide animals with minimum space

In January 2006 he consented to a $25,000 fine and a probation period. Based on inspections since, hopefully conditions have improved.  But, for over five years before USDA forced changes, the animals Joe “rescued” were subjected to the horrible conditions USDA cited.

In September 2009 USDA issued a warning notice for alleged violations of the AWA handling requirements stemming from separate incidents that occurred in 2007 and 2008, one involving a customer injured by a lion cub.

On September 13, 2011 Schreibvogel was cited by USDA for failing to provide veterinary care to two animals.

On December 1, 2011 Schreibvogel was cited by USDA for improper handling related to an incident in September 2011 at GW Park where young boy was injured by a tiger cub.

23 CUBS DIED AT GW PARK

Schreibvogel is currently under investigation by USDA for the deaths of 23 tiger cubs and separately for other possible violations of the AWA.  The cubs died between April 2009 and May 2010 according to what Joe’s people reported to the FDA.  Any responsible facility would have done necropsies on the  initial deaths.  Joe finally did necropsies on one or two of the last cubs to die and called in FDA to test the formula.  The necropsies indicated curdled milk formula in the stomachs of the cubs.  So, Joe insists that the cubs were killed by “bad formula.”  But, the FDA testing of the samples Joe provided and of samples from the manufacturer found nothing wrong with the formula.  This formula must be stored, handled, mixed and administered properly.  Since FDA found nothing wrong with the formula itself, if the cubs did die from the formula, the most logical conclusion is that it was because Joe’s staff did not do one or more of these activities properly.

PETA INVESTIGATION

 

Between February and June 2006, a PETA investigator working at GW Exotics kept a log documenting a pattern of abuse.  These included animals seriously injured from fighting, food dishes teeming with maggots, hungry animals who went without food, animals who were abused and beaten by staff.  For instance, here are two examples from http://www.peta.org/features/gw-the-animals.aspx:

 

JULIE, THE THREE-LEGGED LION

On his first day on the job, PETA’s investigator met Julie, a three-legged lioness, who had a bloody, raw, and gaping hole where her right front leg used to be. Julie had been attacked by two tigers who literally chewed and tore her leg off and then ate it. The remaining stump of her leg had to be amputated and when she pulled out the stitches, Julie’s open wound went untreated.Though she moaned and whimpered for days, she was given nothing for pain. Julie languished in a small and barren indoor cage on a concrete floor with nothing more than a small towel for comfort. Although she was bred and born at the zoo, [J1] tells people that he “rescued” Julie and that she was injured before coming to the zoo.

 

‘THE VEGAS TIGERS’

GW’s Holiday 2005 newsletter reported that the Fercos Bros., a Siegfried & Roy wannabe magic act in Las Vegas, gave the park two male tigers who had “outgrown” the stage. Two days after PETA’s investigator started working at the park, the “Vegas tigers,” as they were called, were killed by lethal injection because staff decided they were “mean.”

Reportedly, the tigers’ teeth were cut out, and one was decapitated and his head given to the veterinarian’s husband to be mounted. When the Fercos came to visit the tigers in June, they were told that the cats were killed when lightning struck their cage during a storm.

Below is a video by the investigator showing a dying horse left suffering, workers beating animals with tools, and a worker explaining how they forge the feeding log to say animals were fed that were not because USDA had no way to prove otherwise.

According to one report “PETA activists took their recordings to law enforcement, but no charges were filed after authorities said no criminal activity occurred in the videos they viewed. Federal agents inspected the park twice after the videos were released and found no violations. Schreibvogel claimed the PETA videos took out of context what was going on, but did admit he had fired four of the employees featured in the investigation.” Although authorities decided not to file criminal charges, it is hard to imagine the behavior in this video not being animal abuse no matter what the “context.”

For more on PeTA’s investigation visit http://www.peta.org/features/gw.aspx


IS JOE AN ANIMAL LOVER?

 

Allowing animals to suffer horrible conditions for years until USDA forced him to correct them clearly contradicts Joe’s claim to be a lover of animals. His current argument that he should be allowed to abuse cubs and subject a steady stream of them to lifelong misery in order to support those he has collected raises further doubts. He accepts animals from places known for animal abuse without regard for the fact that these places continue to operate and abuse more animals. Is that a rescuer, or someone just building the “world’s largest” big cat zoo to satisfy his ego?

 

IS JOE A PERSON OF CHARACTER AND PROFESSIONALISM?

 

To get an insight into Joe’s character, let’s look at a few examples of his behavior.

Photos of PETA and BCR effigies being killed. One of his responses to criticism from PETA and BIG CAT RESCUE was to post photos on his Facebook page showing figures labeled PETA and BCR with guns to their heads, hangman’s nooses around their necks, and a bow and arrow pointed at them.

If you are a manager of a mall reading this, is this the kind of person you want to be associated with?

Photo shooting polar bear cub. One mall executive found out how professional Joe is when his company decided they did not want to be associated with Joe’s abuse. Joe, using one of his “stage names” Aarron Alex, accused the management company online of “supporting the killing of animals” and posted a photo with his proposed boycott of their properties showing a polar bear plush toy with a handgun to its head and the title “If Mama Don’t Want It Don’t Nobody Want It.”

If you were a mall owner or manager, is this the kind of vendor you want?

Registering URLs in Name of Dead Person. Another rather bizarre behavior is that in recent years Joe has been in the habit of registering new internet URL’s using the name Brian Rhyne, who the GW website said died in 2001. What kind of person uses a dead man’s name to register their websites? Recently Joe has been changing some of these, perhaps as a result of this strange behavior being commented upon online.

Crude, sexually oriented comments and lies.  Joe and a small band of cronies, most of whom are people who support subjecting exotic animals to the unsuitable condition of being pets, constantly post blatant lies, sometimes sexually oriented, about his critics.  Some of the Facebook identities making these comments are fake identities set up by Joe or this group.  For instance, it is hard to imagine that his Facebook supporter “Carole Backsins” is anything more than a shallow and childish alteration of the name of Carole Baskin of Big Cat Rescue.

 

JOE’S MULTIPLE COMPANY NAMES AND PERSONAL NAMES

 

What about all those company names listed at the top of this page? One of the most basic principles in marketing is to develop a consistent brand image. The problem for Joe is that his brand is tainted by his animal abuse, so he keeps making up new names. He really went to town in 2010 adding at least four of the names listed above.

He says he uses different names to avoid the “animal activists.” Joe is not fooling any of the people who fight to protect animals and want him to stop abusing the cubs. They find him no matter what entity name he uses. The only people he can fool this way are the members of the public. One individual, Aaron Wissner, whose posts indicate he simply was concerned at what he saw at a mall and wanted to find out who “Tigers in Need” was, spent what had to be hours researching. Some of his information came from prior versions of this page, but much he obtained elsewhere. A URL to his research appears at the bottom of this page.

Joe’s Names. In addition to using his own name, Joe has performed his magic act using Joe Exotic, Aarron Alex, and Cody Ryan. Cody Ryan frequently performs as a duo with a man named Aaron Stone. Joe posts disparaging remarks about his critics under both his own name and Aarron Alex, and Aaron Stone has shown up with similar comments as a “volunteer” on at least one post.

Joe’s Accomplices. Joe has two accomplices in the subterfuge of his entity “name game.” One is Beth Corley. Joe has one USDA license. Beth Corley has her own license, registered at the same address as Joe’s, i.e. the G.W. Animal Park address. The other accomplice is Vicky Welch, spelled with a “y” in news reports, but with an “i” when Joe uses her name to register URL’s for the new names he makes up for the magic act and cub display. She travels with the show and has been referred to in the press as “road manager and animal caretaker” for Awakening Productions.

Are they all interconnected? It would take too long to give details on each here. We have built an excel spreadsheet sorting out his maze. Some names are registered as Trade Names of G.W. Exotics. Others are separate corporations. And still others are not registered at all with the Oklahoma Secretary of State nor show up on the IRS.gov site as nonprofits even though they claim to be.

Just for example, let’s look at one person and one entity.

Beth Corley. As mentioned, Beth has a USDA license registered at Joe’s address. Beth is referred to in an online news story posted by Joe as “Director” of Big Cat Rescue Entertainment. She is referred to by a reporter for The Herald Bulletin in Anderson, IN as “Beth Corley, a worker with Big Cat Rescue” (failing to include the “Entertainment”). A report in The Telegraph on the exhibit at the Alton Square Mall in Alton, IL in July 2010 refers to “Beth Corley, co-founder of Welch’s Entertainment.” The Fremont Tribune from Fremont, NE on 1-28-10 refers to “Corley’s Exotics, run by Beth Corley of G.W. Exotic Animal Park.”

Tigers In Need. Now, let’s take one entity, or one name since it does not actually appear to be an entity, “Tigers In Need”. As of this writing, we could not find it registered as a Trade Name nor as a separate Corporation, so it appears to be just a made up name. One advantage, assuming that is intentional, is that it is difficult to know who “owns” it. Below is a list of some of the ways in which Tiger In Need is connected to the other entities and accomplice names:

1) The URL tigersinneed.org was registered 1/30/10. Before 7/29/10 the WHOIS report showed Registrant Name was “Tigers in need” and Registrant Email was Joe_Exotic@Yahoo.com. On 7-29-10 the registration was changed to show Registrant Name as Vicki Welch and Registrant Email left blank.

2) The tigersinneed.org website has a description that clearly is GW Park. It refers to being started in 1999 in Southern Oklahoma and having over 150 big cats. It says “Please note that we are a non-profit organization and are not affiliated with any other company”, when it clearly is the same facility as the GW Exotic zoo.

3) The “Contact Us” link at tigersinneed.org brings up “Florida Office 813-361-9611”, the same phone being used by Big Cat Rescue Entertainment.

4) The “Guestbook” link at tigersinneed.org contains comments from visitors to the Alton Mall in July. The Alton, IL newspaper, The Telegraph, reporting on the show at the mall, refers to the cats being “just a few of the 150 or so from the Tigers In Need refuge in Wynnewood, Okla. Welch’s Entertainment holds the tours…to raise money for Tigers In Need.” It quotes “Beth Corley, co-founder of Welch’s Entertainment.”

5) The Davis County Clipper 7-27-10 in Bountiful, UT refers to Welch’s Tiger Experience also being called Tigers in Need.

6) An event notice on the East Town Mall website was titled Tigers in Need formally (sic – formerly) Awakening Productions.

What kind of person creates a maze of entities like this, and for what legitimate purpose?

 

JOE’S FALSEHOODS

 

Joe and his employee Bobbi Corona have a total disregard for the truth that is remarkable. He says and writes whatever nonsense he decides to make up. PeTA identified statements about his breeding and selling that they show to be false at http://www.peta.org/features/gw-exotic-animal-trade.aspx

Here are some examples where Joe misleads or issues totally false statements:

Tigers In Need Nonprofit and Not Affiliated. His many names and entities and the deception that they foist on the public are discussed above. A number of his entities, like Tigers In Need, have claimed on their websites, literature and press reports to be “nonprofit.” They do not show up as registered trade names of a nonprofit, nor on the IRS site under their own names. G.W. Exotic Animal Park is a nonprofit, so maybe Joe thinks that any name he wants to call it by becomes a nonprofit, even when he is denying that the name is associated with GW. The other deception is the idea that these are not related. Tigers In Need, which clearly is just another name for the GW Animal Park, has on its website at this writing “we… are not affiliated with any other company”, an obviously false statement.  Then, in his depositions in our lawsuit, he did an about face and says that G.W. Exotic Animal Park, Tigers in Need and Big Cat Rescue Entertainment are all the same.  He claims he never intended to file Big Cat Rescue Entertainment as a separate company, it should have been a d/b/a.  This is in spite of the fact that he first registered it as a d/b/a, then redrew that registration and filed it as a separate corporation.

Howard Baskin cub display video. Howard Baskin, husband of Carole Baskin from Big Cat Rescue, went undercover at a tiger cub exhibit to get video showing the cubs’ distress and the exhibitor’s lies. He then made a video explaining in detail why these exhibits are abusive and provided details about the particular exhibitor involved and the poor conditions at her facility. The video included the video clip at the top of this page showing Joe’s cubs with diarrhea. You can see the 6 minute video at http://www.bigcatrescue.org/video/00389.htm

What did Joe do? He issued a “press release” on PRLog claiming that Carole does not know that “her husband has been going behind her back to either pet or play with a baby tiger cub.” He quoted the owner of the exhibit, someone who says Joe “donated” a cub to her, as saying “Maybe this is how he gets his kicks since he cant (sic) get them at home…” So, Joe, Howard Baskin goes behind his wife’s back to pet tiger cubs, then makes a video and has her post it on the Big Cat Rescue website. Pretty darn sneaky of him. Surely she will never know. Does a truthful person of character post a press release like this?

Joe claims he is no longer the one displaying the cubs. This one is a gem. Joe recently started saying that people concerned about the abuse in the cub exhibit should leave him alone and are lying if they associate him with it because the cub exhibit is under the USDA license of another person. In a Facebook post 11/4/10 Joe says “I DON’T USE CUBS (his caps) anylonger (sic), all I do is Magic shows.”

Let’s think about that one. The USDA licensee is now not Joe. It is Beth Corley. But her license is registered at the same address as his and she has historically travelled with the show. Her connections to his various entities are detailed above. The proceeds of the show are still advertised as going to Tigers In Need, basically just another made up name for Joe’s GW Exotics Animal Park as shown above. So the show still benefits Joe’s zoo. But since the cubs are technically registered under his co-worker’s license Joe has nothing to do with the cubs show? Sure, Joe.

Breeding “A Select Few”. Joe says he breeds “a select few.” Were the 23 cubs that died mid 2010 a select few? He is constantly breeding to supply his road show. He can be heard in the PeTA video yelling at the cats to breed because he needed cubs for the road show.

Laws restricting private ownership cause abandonment. The GW Exotic website “About” page claims the laws banning private exotic animal ownership are the cause of the abandonment of exotics that Joe has to rescue. This is utter nonsense. New bans typically grandfather in private owners. But more importantly, it is private ownership that causes the abandonment. If private ownership were banned nationwide, which it should be like it is in many states and many other nations, there would be NO abandonment because no private owners would have them!

The steady increase in legislation banning private ownership represents recognition by our society that private ownership leads to massive abuse. Social values evolve. It took decades to ban slavery in England and for women to win the right to vote in America. Those ideas started out as “radical”, held by a small minority. Gradually more and more people understood and agreed until they became a part of our value system that we take for granted today. The same trend is happening with private ownership of exotics. Gradually more and more people are realizing that this simply leads to widespread abuse of these animals. The best evidence of this is the accelerating trend in state laws. Just since 2005 eight more states have passed some level of ban.

GW Exotic is “Accredited”. Joe says he is “accredited”.  He is accredited by United States Zoological Association. Tis is an organization Joe himself created in August 2008. The Registered Agent for USZA in the Oklahoma Secretary of State records is Joe Schreibogel.  When he set up the USZA.us website, he used his email address, but listed the Registered Agent as Brian Rhyne, a man who Joe’s own website said died in 2001.  In one fax Joe claims USZA has “nearly 2 million supporters,” another blatant lie.

What kind of organization is it? The USZA website has a page where people can list exotic animals they want to give away, sell or buy. On 11/7/10 the section listing cats for sale offered “baby white tigers” with the notation “great breed stock”. The sellers are only listed by a code. This code for this seller was “600 OK”. As in Oklahoma. Most likely Joe.

Joe refers to his park as a zoo.  The recognized accrediting body in the zoo industry is the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.  Joe is not accredited by AZA.  Being accredited implies having been reviewed by some independent organization and found to have met certain standards.   Forming your own entity to accredit yourself does not qualify as “accredited.”

People Magazine cover.  On his Facebook page for “Joe Exotic” Joe shows “Cody Ryan” ( aka Joe) and Aaron Stone on the cover of People Magazine for “September 2010”, giving the impression they were actually on that cover. They were not.

Joe is Police Chief. On Examiner.com Joe says he “is a former police chief of the Colony Tx…”.

The Colony website http://www.ci.the-colony.tx.us/Depts/pd/PoliceHistory.html contains the list of past and present police chiefs below. The policeman we spoke with by phone at The Colony police department advised that Joe Schreibvogel was never an officer there.

Since The Colony was formed, it has had 6 Chiefs of Police:
Jim Beltran August 1977 to May 1978
John Steinseck July 1978 to September 1979
Nick Ristagno Jan 1980 to April 1990
Ted Gibson December 1990 to February 1992
Bruce Stewart December 1992 to September 1995
Joe Clark April 1996 to Present

Other places Joe mentions being an officer, then Chief, of Eastvale, TX, a small town of about 500 people that years later merged into The Colony.

Disparagement of Big Cat Rescue. Joe has become almost obsessed with disparaging Carole Baskin and Big Cat Rescue. He set up a website for this purpose. The “About” section contains the obvious lie that the site is written by “a group of independent reporters.” Sure, Joe.

In March 2010 he visited Big Cat Rescue as a tour guest, took photos, then captioned them with ridiculous lies. In September 2010 he visited again, this time taking a video of the tour. He made nonsensical comments into the microphone during the tour, including childish insults about the hard working volunteers he saw, then added captions with false statements like he did with his photos. He then flew low over the sanctuary for an extended period of time in a helicopter stressing the cats (not the act of someone who loves animals.)

A few examples of his false statements:

1) He questions the guide’s reference to Big Cat Rescue being accredited with a caption asking by whom. As he knows, the accreditation is by the Global Federation of Sanctuaries whose board is composed of members to the largest animal protection organizations.

2) He claims Carole is getting rich from the sanctuary. Carole has worked for 17 years without any salary or other compensation. In fact she donated the land, some investment properties, and made substantial cash donations. After 9/11 when tourism stopped and donations diminished she was selling her car and personal household belongings to pay for food for the cats.

3) He makes sarcastic, ridiculous comments about cage sizes and cleanliness that anyone who visits would realize are total nonsense. For instance, he shows a small portion of a cage and presents it as the entire cage. Or, he shows a structure made of small logs we built just for the cat’s entertainment and claims it is the den and the cat does not have proper shelter, when in fact the real den is nearby and Joe knows it.

Joe, using his alias Aarron Alex, misused the Care2 Petition site to post his photos and start a petition. Martha Hoffman, a person who had visited Big Cat Rescue a number of times, took the time to write to Care2 documenting the false statements. The last sentence of her first paragraph pretty much says it all:

“I am writing in regard to the BCR sanctuary and the accusations lodged by Aarron Alex. My husband and I are residents of Florida, living on the east coast. We have on numerous occasions visited the BCR participating in the different tours offered. Therefore we have walked the premises at different hours and NEVER have we seen anything in the context of what Mr. Aarron Alex has presented. He purposely distorts every single picture.”

To read the full text of her post where she explains the distortions in detail click here.

Finally, one of Joe’s more absurd posts implies that USDA does not do anything about his bogus complaints because “word has it that she (Carole) has a USDA person living on her property.” Sure Joe – and do Elvis and Jimmy Hoffa share a house with the mysterious “USDA person?”

Joe clearly does not have the slightest concern about whether what he says or writes is true. He makes up whatever he thinks will serve his purpose. The strange part is that he makes statements that are so obviously and outrageously not true. He does not even TRY to keep within the bounds of something that would make sense and be believable, except perhaps to his exotic animal owner following.

 

LACK OF FINANCIAL TRANSPARENCY

 

Credible nonprofits display their financials to proudly show that they are good shepherds of their donors’ contributions. At this writing, none of Joe’s related entities have financial information on their websites. Some of the entities were formed too recently to have filed the required nonprofit IRS form 990, and the G.W. Exotics 990 for 2009 does not yet appear on Guidestar, so the only financial information available is GW Exotic’s 2008 Form 990.

For revenue, the 2008 Form 990 shows $501k in donations and $9k in sales of inventory. Expenses were $447k, with only $3k in salaries and only $48k in animal feed. If food was donated, it is supposed to be recorded as a “noncash” donation and included in the contribution number. So they spent $34/year per animal for food. This is not possible. And salaries of only $3k? Something does not add up. Meantime, Beth Corley is quoted in the press as saying it takes $60k/month to care for their 156 tigers, or $720k/year. They may have had fewer tigers in 2008, but what about the 1200+ other animals?

The 990 shows G.W. Exotic owning about $400k in Land, Buildings, and Equipment. But, this does not include the 16 acres the park sits on. According to county records, Joe owns that personally.

Joe says he displays the cubs to make money to support the park. He recently reported making a record $23,697 in five days. Imagine how many people had to handle these poor cubs in those five days to generate that. Think about how you would feel if that were a human baby. Is it really so much different for a tiger cub that at that age should be spending long hours sleeping just like a human baby?

 

COMMENTS AND RESEARCH BY OTHERS

 

Others have either done homework on Joe or posted comments that provide additional information.

PeTA. PeTA’s webite is referenced above. It mentions documents in which Joe has made false statements. It also provides a list of the other disreputable exotic animal breeders, exhibitors, etc. with whom Joe deals in his rescuing and placing of animals. See http://www.peta.org/features/gw.aspx  Joe repeatedly refers to this undercover work as “faked” or a “frame job,” which is absolutely absurd.

 

CONCLUSION

 

Joe Schreibvogel is one of the best examples in the nation of why private ownership of big cats should be banned. He has a history of abuse, breeds big cats adding to the number that live a miserable life in small cages, breeds and takes in more than he can financially support, and justifies the current abuse by saying he needs to do it to make money to support the other animals. He shows himself to be totally devoid of integrity and professionalism with his inappropriate photos depicting violence against his critics and by constantly posting material online that he knows is devoid of any semblance of truth.

Venues who host exhibits like this and the public who “pay to play” don’t know what goes on behind the scenes. We hope the information on this page helps. The best way to stop this form of abuse is to have venues and the public understand what really happens to these animals and choose not to support the misery Joe and those like him create.

Joe prefers to be a zoo rather than a sanctuary. Two individuals who say they know Joe say he has told them his goal is to be the “world’s largest” animal facility. But he could make a different choice. If Joe took all the time he spends online ranting untruths about those who object to his abuse of these cubs and devoted it to trying to learn the skills necessary to operate a real sanctuary, and if he focused on having a number of animals that he could reasonably support instead of being “the world’s largest”, he might be able to support his animals without having to abuse some to do it. No one who runs a real sanctuary will tell you it is easy, and Joe might not be able to do it. But that is not a reason to let him continue to breed and abuse generation after generation of innocent cubs.

 

PAGES REFERRED TO ABOVE

Marsha Hoffman letter to Care2 re Aarron Alex Petition disparaging Big Cat Rescue

TO: Care2

I am writing in regard to the BCR sanctuary and the accusations lodged by Aarron Alex.My husband and I are residents of Florida, living on the east coast. We have on numerous occasions visited the BCR participating in the different tours offered. Therefore we have walked the premises at different hours and NEVER have we seen anything in the context of what Mr. Aarron Alex has presented. He purposely distorts every single picture.

First, I would like to address the various tours / money making claim. To the credit of the BCR their tours are considerably smaller than those of other sanctuaries we have visited. Total number of people for day tours is 20 people. This is done so as not to upset the animals. The price of their tours are very much in line with other sanctuaries .. in some cases less. Public is NOT permitted to wander around outside of the tour as in other sanctuaries. While the tours do provide income, that money is used for the benefit of the inhabitants and the wonderful education provided by BCR in regard to exotic animals. I don’t understand this complaint. Seems to me they are just reaching for something that isn’t there to try to discredit this sanctuary especially because they charge for their zoo. BCR, like every other sanctuary, need income to provide for the care of the animals. He complains that Carole Baskin did not do the tour – as they are done by volunteers. Ms. Baskin has a sanctuary to run that is why she has volunteers do the tours.

Further Ms.Baskin’s only concern/interest is that of the welfare of the animals. The BCR is a true sanctuary. Animals are not exploited, do not do tricks, are not handled by the public etc .. which is in complete contrast to the “sanctuary” zoo Mr. Aarron Alex is associated with. See -http://www.gwpark.org/e – BCR on the other hand, is a quiet, peaceful place for animals to live out their lives as close to their natural habitats as possible.

As far as the pictures go I am appalled at the distortions. Pictures were taken of the animals close up and do not show full enclosures. Yes, several of the enclosures are round, but what Alex neglected to say is how large they are .. ranging from actually one full acre to smaller ones for smaller cats. Pictures of cats resting on rocks, or sitting in a hut/cave are close ups and do not show the background.

Examples of distortion and lies ..

1 – Cat sitting in small cage with water dish … This is the feeding cage. Every animal has it’s own cage to go to when their food is distributed. As a matter of fact, if one is at the BCR a half hour or so, before feeding, due to the schedule one would see animals sitting patiently in their feeding cage waiting for the feeding. Animals are given any necessary medications and carefully observed while in these small cages. Also it is at this time that keepers clean out the enclosures.

2 – Wild feral cats roaming around. This is absolutely not true. The domestic cats are all friendly felines who come up to people during tours for belly rubs, ears to be scratched and the treats the various volunteers/staff carry with them. I have never seen a feral cat in the area. If you look at the cat Alex has taken a picture of, you will see a very healthy animal, well groomed and certainly well fed. All domestic cats are taken for their shots and cared for/loved every bit as well as the big cats.

3 – Dead trees …. each year different organizations/stores donate unsold Christmas trees – this is simply to add variety to the enclosures and make them more jungle like. These trees bring new smells for the animals and offer something new to investigate.

4 – Poop in enclosures. We have never ever seen unclean enclosures. The staff is constantly cleaning and maintaining the enclosures. Again a factor for the small feeding cages. These cages lock while the animal is feeding and gives the staff ample time to maintain healthy clean enclosures. See point #1.

5 – There is a picture of a tiger lying by the side of the enclosure, but if you look closely, you will see green grass in the background and a pond. This is the “round” enclosure Alex speaks about ………however, he neglects to say it is one acre in size and has a pond for the tigers to swim in.

6 – Black big cat on a rock …. this is where the animal goes to sun himself – the entire rest of the enclosure is conveniently cut out of the picture. There are trees to climb, grass to roll in and a den to hide in ……..not in the picture though.

7 – He portrays huts/dens as horrible small caves where the animals huddle in. These dens or huts are usually in the middle of an enclosure and true to natural habitats of cats where they sleep, have their cubs and spend a good deal of their time. Once again he has conveniently eliminated the large area that house these huts/dens.

8 – There is a tiger lying down on it’s back, with all four legs in the air and belly exposed. What Alex evidently does not understand is that cats, wild or domestic will only take this position if they are truly secure and content. This position makes a cat very vulnerable to attack from a predator. Obviously this tiger is full of trust and totally comfortable in its surroundings.

9 – Three legged Serval. Desiree was rescued from the side of a road in AZ that way. Aarron Alex tries to make the reader believe that this happened to the Serval while it was at BCR ……..a bold faced lie!

I would like to invite you to visit http://www.bigcatrescue.org/videos and view the various videos they have about their sanctuary. You will see how it disputes everything presented by this man. Then go to …http://www.911animalabuse.com/00abusers/GWExotics.htm. Quite a contrast. In Aarron Alex’s write up which accompanies the petition he has the audacity to accuse the BCR of exploiting animals for money when his so called “sanctuary” does exactly that. BCR is not a show place – instead it is a true sanctuary for animals to live out their lives in dignity and peace. Enclosures are not done in glittering, elaborate circus like manner – instead they are done in a calm, tranquil, soothing way to exemplify the natural habitat of each animal.

I respectfully request that you remove this petition due to the untruths, deceptions and blatant distortions. Mr. Aarron Alex obviously went to there for the sole purpose of causing trouble. He knew exactly what he was doing and wanted to accomplish. Please don’t be a party to this sort of dishonesty.

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Posted on Nov 15, 2014 in Abuse, Shut Down | 0 comments

Animal House Zoo Carolyn Atchison

Animal House Zoo Carolyn Atchison

Animal House Zoo Carolyn Atchison

Leopard-Leg-Mauled-107

Timeline of Abuse

2006:  Animal House loses USDA license after egregious violations of the Animal Welfare Act.  See court order. 2012 or before: 18 year old Leopard allegedly injured by a doberman at Carolyn Atchison’s “Animal House” in Moulton, AL. Leopard-Leg-Mauled-1046/10/13  Domestic pet rescuers see the injured leopard and take photos and videos and contact Big Cat Rescue and the Animal Legal Defense Fund. 6/11/13  Big Cat Rescue offers to take leopard is seized and get the cat to a vet and then provide lifetime care. 6/21/13  Big Cat Rescue obtains an import permit from the Florida Wildlife Commission to rescue the leopard. 6/21/13  Ethan Eddy, a trial attorney for the U.S. Dept. of Justice Environment and Natural Resources Div. Wildlife and Marine Resources Section sends an agent for USFWS named John Rawls to the facility to see if they can persuade the owner to abandon the leopard to them. 6/24/13 USFWS’ John Rawls drives 3 hours to the Animal House.  He says he will have an outside vet examine the leopard.  It is unknown if he did, or if he accepted the word of the unlicensed, former vet that is allegedly Carolyn Atchison’s boyfriend. USFWS does not confiscate the leopard. A month goes by with no word from USFWS so Big Cat Rescue contacts USDA to find out what is going on. 7/22/13  USDA says out of their jurisdiction and up to USFWS if anything is going to be done. 7/23/13  Big Cat Rescue contacts the media to see if they can do anything for this poor cat.   Animal House nor Carolyn Atchison can be found in USDA’s database any longer here:  http://acissearch.aphis.usda.gov/LPASearch/faces/CustomerSearch.jspx Based on the suspension she got in 2006, it looks like she never had a license again to buy and sell exotic animals.  She had 29 tigers in 2004, so no telling where they all ended up.  Back in 2004, USDA only counted tigers and not other species, but in the 90s she had ligers, lions, leopards and all manner of exotic cats.  The thing I remember most, as she was showing me around was that every time a worker came up to her she screamed, “What’s dead now?”

Witness Reports

The following are details that were gathered second hand and may not be entirely accurate.  The photos, however, tell the grisly truth. Leopard-Leg-Mauled-3The owner, Carolyn Atchison, previously had a contract with Lawrence county to be their holding facility for unwanted pets.  Witnesses have reported that she was feeding the domestic animals to her wild animals (thus the Doberman / Leopard fight.)  The county revoked her contract and domestic rescue groups were picking up the domestic animals on June 10 when they saw the gut wrenching condition that this leopard was in.  They contacted the local authorities, who did nothing, and the Animal Legal Defense Fund to see what could be done to rescue this leopard. Ethan Eddy is a trial attorney for the U.S. Dept. of Justice Environment and Natural Resources Div. Wildlife and Marine Resources Section.  He is sending an agent for USFWS named John Rawls to the facility to see if they can persuade the owner to abandon the leopard to them.  If so they will be expecting Big Cat Rescue to be there within 10-12 hours to pick up the cat.   June 10, 2013 a letter from a concerned citizen: Leopard-Leg-Mauled-103We have a big problem with an exotic zoo … in Alabama…There is a leopard with a huge open injury from his paw to his shoulder, please help… The owner has agreed to allow for the removal of the domestic animals, however the owner is opting to keep the exotic animals…there is an injured exotic big cat that looks like a jaguar or leopard. They are trying to locate an exotic veterinarian that will donate their services to amputate the left front leg, no questions asked, as the owner shut everything down and the animal will be hard to access to help. There are NO laws on the books to protect from private ownership in the state of Alabama.  There is a gaping wound with massive muscle and tissue loss. This is an emergency. Please contact me to help.   June 10, 2013 a letter from another concerned citizen: Filthy-Water-91…As of last night we sent all photos and video to ALDF and also filed a complaint with the USDA. We are keeping this very HUSH as she has multiple prior violations. She also is well connected in the Zoo circuit. It is my understanding that she has sent exotics off to others zoo’s but these are the ones that are either too old or her personal “pets”. I’ve attached a couple pictures of the injured cat, please keep that low profile for now, we have jumped past trying to get a vet in as we were able to remove all but two of the dogs yesterday, well before we actually expected to be able to! We are hoping to hear back today as to what ALDF will be bale to assist with, there are no state agencies that will be able to handle this, nor do i think they would even care.  I also included a video of the Cat that a volunteer was able to get while they were distracted loading dogs. There is MUCH more to the story and many exotics there. She has only two employees and was being contracted as local animal control for years, hardly enough of a team to keep the facility clean much less the animals safe. We were given a story that the Cat had an altercation with  Doberman and the dog “lost”. Feel free to call me if you can offer any assistance, but at this point we feel it imperative that something be done on a larger level than just getting a vet in. there are injured Owls and other animals that need medical attention. …she has multiple violations through 2004-08 and a mere 3500 fine for it all! I am now being told that her “vet” lives on this 100 acre property and is her boyfriend, but that could all be a big story to keep the heat off. What do you suggest we do? Feel free to call me if you think you can offer any guidance or help. Below is the link to the USDA complaint from the time period I mentioned. Everything in there is so familiar as to what is occurring now too! http://www.dm.usda.gov/oaljdecisions/AWA_05-0015_052206.pdf

 Tiger-Dead-Raccoon-126She has a lovely house and looks like a ton of plastic surgery too, but the animals go without! There are rotting corpses on the property, I’ve attached a few more photos and videos. It’s a hellhole. there is a video somewhere from 2002 as well that shows half eaten dogs and cats trying to escape from a tiger pen, but i cannot get my hands on it! Upon leaving yesterday after we delivered hundreds of pounds of dog and cat food, she said to a volunteer “don’t say anything bad about us and pray for us” The lies just don’t add up, the animals there suffering should be enough for the USDA to act however they only gave a 3500 fine the first time, but this goes far beyond exotic ownership it’s a 100 acre hell hole filled with rotting carcasses and unsanitary conditions. The workers mentioned trying to Quit 3 to 4 times over the last 13 years and have gone back “as they knew she would mistreat the animals” I believe with applied pressure they will, speak out. There is also rumor that the Vet lives in a 3 story mansion on this property. If that is the case, he should be prosecuted as well! Also that there are more exotic cats behind his “house”, but it’s a huge property and we were only able to get access to the certain areas she allowed. We have many accounts of live domestics being fed to the exotics, but no solid proof that I know of. For now all we have is what I sent, which we are all hoping will be enough. http://youtu.be/IanWeSU5GQc …we do have volunteers who are willing to testify to the pic and videos they took and what they saw and heard, i also have the personal cell numbers of the two workers. We have gotten all but two dogs out aside from the ones she claims to be her personal pets. i feel if we wait she will be able to get rid of key evidence. …PS no vaccinations are given to the domestic animals for those diseases, so those exotics ARE in fact in grave danger of contracting any number of those, we are rampant with parvo here in the South and even speculate at a new strain that may be partially resistant to the vaccinations. have not contacted ANY local agencies, I am terrified they will potentially be someone who will protect her, we have even gotten accounts that a close by AC facility director has been also protecting her over the years, this runs deep! I don’t know a lot about the care of exotic animals, I am a dog rescuer and animal advocate. what i do know is very little if any precautions were taken to separate the ” Animal Control Facility” from the exotic pens and enclosures. I cannot tell you how many rotting corpses are present as there is just no way to tell without being able to really get in there. I work with some amazing ladies who went up there at thr risk on endangering their own lives to save the domestics, however we all agree that we would be just as bad if not worse than she to turn a blind eye to this, do you hear my friend … telling the Cat how sorry she is, it’s just ripped my heart out and brings tears to my eyes just thinking about it. We are just a group of people that love animals enough to speak and act for them, what good we will be to ensure the safety of these exotics, i just don’t know, but i am a fighter and i will see this through to an end that will help them. I am lost here, i just know i see animals that need us to speak for them as no one else has been willing to, people seem to be afraid of her, I AM NOT, WE ARE NOT! Whatever you can offer to help would be greatly appreciated. I know not much can be done locally nor do i think they will act… I didn’t sleep at all last night, i just couldn’t get this cat and the others out of my head, i already don’t think that the laws protect them at ALL, so i have very little faith in govt agencies and even less in those that are local, from personal experience!

Additional links:

.com/decaturdaily/news/070823/tiger.shtml

http://animallawcoalition.com/if-theres-no-suffering-why-do-you-need-a-soundproof-room/

http://decaturdaily.com/stories/Moulton-Rescue-owner-Lawrence-shelter-at-odds,69602

http://www.wildcatsanctuary.com.org/alabama-is-still-one-of-7-states-with-no-exotic-animal-ownership-laws-video-report/

http://www.waff.com/story/22535379/lawrence-co-closing-animal-shelter

http://books.google.com/books?id=qzkLDyISV7gC&pg=PA50&lpg=PA50&dq=carolyn+Atchison+moulton,+al&source=bl&ots=g_TCfU20Os&sig=kF5DLM3U-LZDR3MAvUkJuZCqUqM&hl=en&sa=X&ei=5Va3Ucn5IIvu9ASHkIHADA&ved=0CEAQ6AEwBDgU#v=onepage&q=carolyn%20Atchison%20moulton%2C%20al&f=false

http://www.myfoxal.com/story/15735246/alabama-exotic-animal-owners-react-to-ohio-incident

http://www.waaytv.com/news/local/lawrence-county-animal-shelter-closing/article_fd78dc8c-cf17-11e2-925f-001a4bcf6878.html

http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1817&dat=19990613&id=1DwdAAAAIBAJ&sjid=NKYEAAAAIBAJ&pg=6869,2330318

Alabama Regs on Keeping Big Cats

Alabama Category: N Department of Conservation and Natural Resources 64 N Union St.Montgomery, AL 36104 (334) 242-3465 State Web Site Department Web Site Possession of Wildlife for Public Exhibition Purposes Bobcats and mountain lions are not allowed to be imported into the state, transported within the state (except for licensed game breeders), and future possession permits to keep these species will not be issued (as of March, 2003). Accredited educational facilities, research facilities, and permitted rehabilitation facilities shall be exempt from this regulation through the written permission of the Director of the Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries or his designee. Previous owners that already have permits will be grand fathered, but breeding is prohibited. Also issues permits for the public exhibition of wildlife. Carnivals, zoos, circuses, and other like shows and exhibits where ample provision is made so the birds, animals, reptiles, amphibians, and fish will not escape or be released in this state are permitted. Applications require statement regarding person education and experience, description of facilities, number of species desired, and signed agreement that recommended standards for wildlife exhibition will be adhered to. Section 3-8-1 Rabies vaccine required for any canidae or felidae; applicability. Notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary, it shall be illegal to own, maintain, sell, or trade any canidae or felidae for which there is no USDA licensed rabies vaccine. Anyone currently owning or maintaining such animal may keep the animal for the length of the animal’s life providing the animal is spayed or neutered and is registered with the Department of Agriculture and Industries. This section does not apply to any zoological parks, circuses, colleges, and universities, animal refuges approved by the Department of Agriculture and Industries, county or municipal humane shelters, the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, or veterinary clinics.(Acts 1994, No. 94-322, p. 562, §8.) http://wwwlegislature.state.al.us/CodeofAlabama/1975/3-8-1.htm http://www.911animalabuse.com/USDAViolations/2005AnimalHouseCarolynAtchison.pdf

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Posted on Nov 7, 2014 in Abuse, Shut Down | 0 comments

Beth Corley

Beth Corley

Beth Corley

Beth Corley was just another cover for Joe Schreibvogel, but it appears that she got fed up and quit in December 2011.  So why is there a traveling, cub petting act using her USDA license and soliciting donations in the name of GW Park?

We are betting that she doesn’t know her license is being used this way and would really like to hear from her.

 

She has a separate USDA license number of 73-C-0167 but uses the same physical location at Joe’s G.W. Exotics compound and on her website, TigersInNeed she uses photos of the G.W. Exotics cats, cages and grounds with a bogus Tampa, FL phone number that forwards back to the Wynnewood, OK site.  If you query the OK Department of State you can see that Beth Corley does not have a business registered in OK as of 11/6/2010, that we could find, but that Joe Schreibvogel has 12 registered in his name and 1 registered in a mis spelling of his name, but all use the same physical address, several of the same board members (dead and alive or made up) and contact info.  He can keep changing names, addresses and phone numbers, but he cannot eliminate the paper trail he has left behind in the public records for anyone who cares to search.

Pimping tiger cubs at Alton Mall

July 15, 2010–ALTON — Big cat lovers and the simply curious can watch, pet or get their photos taken this week with cuddly tiger cubs visiting Alton Square Mall.

“He was soft; he was cute,” said Catherine Hollis, 7, of Alton, who got her photo taken with one, 7-week-old cub as it devoured a baby bottle of milk. Catherine had her arm around the cub during the photo shoot.

Mother Amy Hollis pointed out to her daughter that “all cats act the same,” as the nearest baby tiger flopped down on a pillow after sniffing the perimeter of the huge cage. Catherine said she has two cats at home.

“One is kind of mean,” she said.

Her mother said the visit, on the first floor of Alton Square between Kirlin’s Hallmark and Payless Shoes, was worth their time.

“I thought it would be a neat experience,” Hollis said. “There is a big turnout.”

The cats, which will be at the shopping center through Sunday, are just a few of the 150 or so from the Tigers in Need refuge in Wynnewood, Okla. Welch’s Entertainment holds the tours to raise awareness about exotic animals and the dangers of purchasing them for pets, and to raise money for Tigers in Need.

The entourage includes two, 7-week-old tigers born after their mother was rescued, a 6-month-old Siberian mix — not available for petting — and a 22-month-old ring-tailed lemur.

At one point midday, a couple dozen people were milling about the area, peering at children petting the babies while a parent or grandparent shot photos, or looking at the variety of tiger-related merchandise.

It is free to walk inside the open, spacious area, but the cost is $25 for two people to go inside one of the large cages and pet one of the cubs. Staff-taken photos also are extra, with varying prices. People are not allowed to photograph the cats from outside the cages without making a donation.

The lack of publicity about the costs for petting the cats irritated some people who came to the exhibit, but others came expecting it would not be free.

“We went just for fun. They had a good experience; they are happy they got to learn something,” Rebecca Owens said about her children, Devon, 6, and Mikalah, 4, who drove over from St. Peters, Mo., to see the soon-to-be-big cats.

“It was kind of scary, but I liked it,” Devon said.

“It was nice to me; it was soft,” his sister chimed in.

When asked whether tigers make good pets, Devon wisely didn’t think so.

“They are too wild,” he said.

People entering and leaving the cages are required to sanitize their hands. They cannot pick up or hold the cubs, and the tips of the animals’ claws are trimmed to prevent anyone from getting scratched. The animals also get breaks every 10 or 15 minutes, said Beth Corley, co-founder of Welch’s Entertainment.

Corley said every animal at the refuge and on tour either was rescued in the United States — often, after being kept as exotic pets — or born at Wynnewood. Zoos only take tigers that are purebred with papers, she said. The cats also cannot be released, so many of them live their entire lives at the refuge.

By Linda N. Weller The Telegraph, Alton, Ill.

In the video below you can see Beth Corley mopping up the diarrhea that the cubs have sprayed all over the mall floor where mall patrons and toddlers are sitting.

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Posted on Oct 25, 2014 in Abuse, Shut Down | 0 comments

Steve Sipek Tarzan

Steve Sipek Tarzan

Tarzan Jailed and Illegally Held Big Cats Confiscated

By SONJA ISGER

Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

 

LOXAHATCHEE — Former Tarzan movie actor Steve Sipek was released from jail this afternoon after authorities arrested him on misdemeanor charges related to the two tigers and one leopard he kept on his property.

While he was being processed at the jail, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission investigators sedated and removed the cats from Sipek’s property in the 3300 block of C Road.

Sipek’s USDA permit to keep the three large cats at a Loxahatchee facility that he maintains with Melanie Boynes has been revoked, said FWC spokesman Jorge Pino. Sipek now faces misdemeanor charges of possession of a Class 1 animal without a USDA permit and possession of a Class 1 animal as a pet. No one else was on the property.

Boynes arrived after Sipek’s arrest and was kept at a distance from the property with neighbors and media while wildlife officers worked. She was not arrested.

“Mr. Sipek and Ms. Boynes were in violation of federal and state laws that are in place to keep both people and animals safe and healthy,” Maj. Curtis Brown, leader of the FWC’s Captive Wildlife and Investigations Section, said in a statement this morning. “The FWC removed the animals to protect public safety and to place them in a licensed, healthy and safe facility.”

In addition, he said the warrant authorized the seizure of the animals based on “the facility’s repeated failure to correct violations, including multiple bites and escapes, fencing and caging deficiencies, possession of Class I wildlife without proof of consistent and sustained commercial activity, possession of Class I wildlife without a U.S. Department of Agriculture permit and feeding animals an improper diet.”

“After previous inspections and correspondence, the couple has continuously failed to comply with FWC and USDA regulations, presenting safety concerns at the facility,” Brown said. “Sipek has also told FWC investigators that nobody would ever take his animals, causing additional safety concerns.”

Sipek has 60 days to appeal, Pino said.

Boynes said her concerns are both for the animals and Sipek.

“I’d be the last person to ask for an attorney, but I’m asking. He needs an attorney,” Boynes said.

“Those cats were like his children,” said Kathy Carchia, who said she helped raise the cats until finances forced her to move to Fort Pierce last year. “He’s unorthodox, but he loves his animals.”

Tigers and panthers are Class 1 wildlife that are considered to pose significant danger to people. Owners must prove they have extensive experience caring for such animals and meet very specific requirements regarding their cages, according to the FWC.

Class 1 species such as cougars, panthers and cheetahs can’t be kept for personal possession unless they were owned previous to August 2009. Others had to have been privately kept before August 1980.

Authorities would not name the place where the cats would be housed while Sipek’s case moves through the system, but said it would be within the state.

An official from the Busch Wildlife sanctuary was on hand, invited by the FWC as an outside observer, Pino said.

Sipek, a Croatian man who was known during his acting career as the “Spanish Tarzan”, has a long-standing affinity for big cats.

He has more than once told the story of how in 1975 a lion dragged him out of a fire on a movie set, which made him a big-cat fancier on the spot.

In 2004, he was the subject of worldwide media coverage during a 26-hour hunt after a 600-pound tiger named Bobo escaped from Sipek’s Loxahatchee compound. Bobo was found and shot five times with an AK-47 assault rifle by a wildlife officer.

In 2005, after suffering from a string of setbacks including a house fire and the death of his 22-year-old cougar, Missy, and his 22-year-old lion, Elvis, Sipek paid $3,200 for two tiger cubs named Bo and Little Bo, according to a Palm Beach Post story written at the time.

It is unclear if these are the tigers that wildlife officials are collecting this morning.

Just last fall, Sipek told a Palm Beach Post reporter that he lets his tigers sleep with him in the house.

“When it’s cold like last night, they are very warm to cuddle up to,” Sipek said at the time.

In October, Sipek’s license was under review by the FWC.

Sipek isn’t the only keeper of big cats in Loxahatchee. In fact, he bought Bobo from a man who lives about five miles down the road and runs a wildlife sanctuary that houses 21 big cats, including tigers, a lion and Florida panthers, as well as tortoises, birds, small mammals and venomous snakes on display for private tours.

Check back for updates to this breaking news story.

http://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/authorities-arrest-former-tarzan-actor-remove-three-big-2202335.html?sort=asc&page=3&more_comments=true#commentsList

 

Steve Sipek Tarzan

 

Tiger Wincing At Sight Of Whip In Steve Sipek's Hand

Tiger Wincing At Sight Of Whip In Steve Sipek’s Hand

This story is so typical of the bad message that is sent to youngsters when adults pose with lions and tigers or are interviewed by the media for having them as pets.  Even though most of these people think they are “special” or “gifted” and will tell you that mere mortals cannot co-exist with dangerous wild animals, they use that as a springboard to imply, or in Steve’s case, outright claim, that they are more in tune with nature than anyone else.

 

If they knew the minds of their big cats they would know that the cats live miserable lives of boredom, sparked only by moments of sheer helplessness at the hands of their captors and a nagging hunger for all that they were meant to have.  Big cats, like lions, tigers and leopards are hard wired to kill their own food, find their own mates, travel hundreds of miles to protect and declare their own territory.  Anyone who breeds them for life in a cage demonstrates an utter lack of understanding or compassion for the animal.

 

As you will see in all of the news clips below there was never any mention of a lion named Sampson saving Steve from the fire on the set of the Spanish version of Tarzan, other than the claims made by Steve 30 years after the incident.  The media would have leaped on a story about a lion saving an actor had it really happened back in 1972.  THAT would have been news, even if Steve Sipek was an unknown actor playing a knock off, unlicensed Spanish version of the popular Tarzan series.  It wasn’t until Bobo the tiger escaped and was killed in 2004 that Steve came up with the story about a lion saving his life and being the reason for him hoarding some 100 big cats.  Where did they come from and where are they now?  Big cats can live 20 years but they can only be dominated by their owners for the first 4 or 5 years when they become mature.

 

For all of the people who have been conned by this man and others like him who claim to have such a personal bond with big cats it should be of interest to know that after Bobo was killed Steve’s girlfriend called Big Cat Rescue saying that Steve wanted to “get rid” of his adult cats (a tigress, a leopard and 2 lions) because he was buying two tiger cubs to “replace Bobo.”  Big Cat Rescue does not enable such irresponsible behavior and does not know where those cats ended up, but it was in the press that Steve did buy his two replacement cubs.  In 2007 Steve Sipek told reporters that Bo and Little Bo were the names of those two tiger cubs who were 400 lbs by then.  In 2010 he is playing with a new cub named Lepa and carrying on about how she is the love of his life, but no mention any more of Bo and Little Bo.

 

In 2007 it became FL law that anyone exhibiting big cats must post a $10,000 bond in case someone was hurt, or to cover the costs of dealing with escapes and property damage.  At that time, the FL law required that if you owned a big cat you must be an exhibitor, but Steve Sipek could never get his property into the minimal condition necessary to qualify for a USDA license, so he did not post the bond.  To close loopholes like this, the FL legislature came back in 2009 and amended the rule to say that all who POSSESS big cats must post the bond.  You can see at this link that 69 big cat owners still have not posted the bond as of 2012 including Steve Sipek.

 

As with all of these exotic cat owners, what they love is the attention they get from possessing the lions or tigers.

 

 

By Joel Hood – South Florida Sun-Sentinel
July 14, 2007

Loxahatchee Groves Bo was in a bad mood.

The 400-pound Siberian Bengal tiger stalked angrily inside his shaded iron enclosure, finding little relief from the heat. Visitors watched him pace behind pencil-thin iron bars. Bo wanted nothing to do with them; he held them back with an irritated growl.

“It’s too hot for him,” owner Steve Sipek said, entering the cage with a small bucket of severed turkey legs. “He’s a little cranky.”

It’s a mood that’s spreading around the Sipek compound as the reclusive cat lover prepares for what has become a yearly battle with state and federal officials to keep his exotic felines: two Bengal tigers, an African lioness and a black leopard.

A year ago, federal inspectors denied Sipek an exotic animal permit to legally keep his cats because his five-acre ranch did not meet standards in the Animal Welfare Act. But the former B-movie actor, known around the Groves simply as “Tarzan,” was granted a state permit that allowed him to keep the cats if he used them for educational or commercial purposes.

Sipek said he’s reapplying for another state license, but remains defiant as ever toward federal officials and what he calls their”ridiculously high standards” for animal care. He said his cats are well cared for and challenges the authority of the federal officials to make any demands for better conditions. His last federal license inspection lasted less than an hour before Sipek ran the officials off his property.

“I told them to get the hell out of here and don’t come back,” Sipek said. “They have no authority to police me in my own home. Government likes to be the boss over everything. They’re only in it to harass you.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health division last toured Sipek’s ranch in January 2006. The inspection and licensing arm of the USDA had given Sipek failing grades on two previous inspections and found conditions had improved little this time. Inspection records note that Sipek did not have a veterinarian on site or on call and that no medical records existed for the cats.

Inspectors found a section of fence was only seven-feet high, a foot lower than the minimum standards for these types of animals. They noted vertical gaps in the fencing large enough for outside animals to pass through to gain access to the enclosed tigers and lioness. They also pointed out other potential weak points in the fence.

Records show inspectors told Sipek that he did not provide a proper diet and feeding program for the cats and that his grounds were littered with dangerous debris. As with past failed inspectors, this record concludes that Sipek is not allowed to participate in USDA”regulated activities,” such as exhibiting the animals, until he obtains a federal license.

Five months later, Sipek easily passed inspection by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and received a state license.

“We’re not in it for the animal’s health,” said John West, the commission’s investigations captain. “We don’t need to see shot records or veterinarian records or anything like that. If he wants to live in a trash pile, that’s his issue.”

Sipek admits he’s frustrated by this discrepancy in state and federal standards. While the state last year said he was a good guardian for the cats, the USDA launched an investigation into his care. USDA officials would not say whether the investigation is ongoing.

“It’s a lousy situation,” Sipek said. “The USDA is not qualified to issue licenses.”

West agrees it’s a confusing and complicated permit process and said the state has ongoing discussions with the USDA to simplify it.

The Croatian-born Sipek, who starred as Tarzan in a foreign remake of the film in 1970, garnered international attention in 2004 when a 600-pound Bengal tiger he owned, Bobo, escaped from his compound and into the rural residential community of the Groves. The tiger was later shot by Fish and Wildlife officials, but soon after, Sipek received another commercial license from the state for two tiger cubs, Bo and Little Bo. Those cubs are now 2 years old and weigh 400 pounds.

USDA spokesman Jim Rogers said federal licenses trump state permits, meaning that Sipek could face legal action if the agency wanted to
prosecute him for illegally owning exotic cats. Rogers would not comment on Sipek’s case specifically, but said “if he’s operating in a
way that we regulate without a license, we will pursue it.”

If they do, Sipek could face fines or a court appearance. But he said he’s not worried.

“Nobody could take better care of my cats than I can,” Sipek said.”The health of the cats is all that matters. That’s all I care about and that’s all they should care about, too.”

http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/local/palmbeach/sfl-flpcat0714pnjul14,0,4576283.story

 

 

 

Tarzan Buys New Tiger Cubs After State Shoots His Escaped Pet Tiger

 

Posted August 21, 2005

LOXAHATCHEE — Steve Sipek still wears grief like a heavy overcoat a year after a wildlife officer shot and killed his escaped tiger, Bobo , igniting a torrent of outrage.

His massive shoulders sag. His bright-blue eyes suddenly shed tears.

But just as suddenly, the retired actor who played Tarzan in B movies brightens and sings a ditty he wrote about the two new loves in his life:

Bo and Little Bo.

The 3-month-old tiger cubs are asleep on the floor when Sipek cracks open the door of his jungle-motif bedroom and coos like the proudest of new papas.

“Where are Daddy’s kisses?” he asks, bending to nuzzle the fur balls. “Have you ever seen anything so beautiful?”

Bo and Little Bo — Bengal-Siberian mixes like their beloved namesake — are lifelines pulling Sipek back from the depths of despair. They are not unlike the lion that rescued him from a burning movie set 35 years ago, kindling his love affair with exotic cats.

The 26-pound cubs also are ready for showtime as the star attractions of Tarzan’s Big Cat Sanctuary, Sipek’s latest plan to fill the gaping hole in his heart.

Unable to obtain more big cats under an old personal pet license last issued by the state in 1980, Sipek applied for and recently received a state license to exhibit exotic wildlife. That allowed him to buy Bo and Little Bo for $3,200. He’s still working on getting a federal license.

But there’s another hitch. He says he must open his 5-acre compound in the secluded Palm Beach County neighborhood of Loxahatchee Groves to the public, inviting in the very beings he has spent much of his life avoiding:

People.

“I have no choice,” he said. “I have to, or else I lose my license.”

The Animal Rights Foundation of Florida, which objects to any private person keeping exotic cats in backyard cages, says Sipek is wrong. Noting there are no legal requirements for exhibitors to actually show their cats, the foundation says he is simply using a loophole in the law to obtain more personal pets.

“Lots of people get the exhibition license, and they fulfill that by having a few people come in and look at the animals,” said Heather Veleanu, managing direction of the foundation. “They do it by inviting their neighbors or their brothers and sisters over.”

Sipek, who also owns a lioness, a Bengal tiger and a black leopard, readily admits he’s a reluctant exhibitor. But he says he’ll do whatever he must to keep his new cubs. In the meantime, he’s working on a Web site, Big Cat Rescue, where would-be visitors can learn more information.

It’s a classic Catch-22 for a self-described loner who has felt betrayed by those closest to him.

After all, Sipek prefers the company of big-fanged felines that could kill with a single pounce to humans, who he says have caused him nothing but heartache during his 63 years.

His mother, he says, orphaned him in his native Croatia as a baby and then reclaimed him when he was 8, only to beat him regularly. He says he hasn’t talked to his son in a year.

And he has had nothing but bad luck with his ex-wives and girlfriends who, he says, have left him, his cats and his granite and marble house behind.

“Cats are the only creatures who love you forever, who are loyal forever,” he said. “You never have to wonder if they betray you.”

‘They murdered my Bobo’

Sipek suspects an angry former girlfriend coaxed Bobo out of the house and left a series of cages and gates open the afternoon of July 12, 2004, when the 600-pound cat greeted a startled mail carrier on C Road with a swipe of his declawed paw.

Within hours, C Road became a media roadshow, with live images from the fringes of the intensive hunt for Bobo beamed around the world. The next day, five shots rang out just beyond Sipek’s compound, and Bobo fell dead.

Prosecutors found no evidence that Sipek was responsible for the cat’s getting loose.

Officials with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission called the shooting a necessary tragedy by an officer left with no other option. While the officer waited for a tranquilizer team, the big cat whirled around, bared his teeth and lunged, they said.

But an inconsolable Sipek called the shooting “murder,” insisting the brush above Bobo’s body was undisturbed, an impossibility had the big cat really turned and leapt.

“They murdered my Bobo ,” he wailed in grief at the time. “They want the glory. They want to say, ‘We killed the tiger. We saved the people.’ ”

His pain and outrage struck a chord, generating songs, poems, paintings, bumper stickers and vigils in Bobo’s memory. It also unleashed such a torrent of hate mail and threats against the wildlife commission that biologists were encouraged not to wear their uniforms in public.

Consumed by grief, Sipek retreated behind his gates, only to face more misfortune. A week after Bobo’s death, an electrical fire badly damaged his house. Then, in September, his cougar Missy died, and hurricanes Frances and Jeanne finished off what the fire started. The final kick came the next month, when his lion Elvis succumbed to old age.

For the next eight months, Sipek ricocheted between rage and grief and the desire for revenge. He didn’t recognize neighbors who dropped by with food or a helping hand. He quit his daily swims and exercises, adding 35 pounds to his once astonishingly fit physique.

He relied on a retinue of women who, drawn by the former movie star’s pain and the magnetism of his big cats, donated countless hours to help him get his place and his self back in shape. Four of them still come around regularly, happy to take Sipek’s tall orders –“hot and sweaty guy-work with lots of tools” — to be around him and his cats, especially the new cubs.

“Seeing him on TV so distressed broke my heart,” Kathi Carchia, a volunteer from Wellington, said while taking a break from fixing a pool filter. “Definitely, there’s been a big change in him since the babies came.”

35-year love affair with cats

Sipek’s romance with big cats began in 1970, while filming Tarzan and the Rainbow, one of two movies in which he portrayed the ape man he had worshipped since watching Johnny Weissmuller in the role as a boy. But his life changed forever when he was captured and staked to the ground for one scene and fire broke out, engulfing Sipek in flames.

Sipek, who went by the stage name Steve Hawkes, knew he would die, until Samson, a lion who also starred in the film, dragged him to safety. From then on, he devoted his life to caring for big cats, many of them maimed discards from breeders and zoos.

To date, he said, he has spent more than $7 million of his movie-industry revenues on 102 cats who shared his home like children.

But none, Sipek reluctantly allows, was quite as special as Bobo . The bond between man and beast was so strong, the 6-year-old tiger would suck Sipek’s thumb like a pacifier before climbing in his bed to sleep.

So, Sipek said, he agonized over whether Bobo would approve of his acquiring two new cubs: “Would he think I was abandoning him in death? Would he think I didn’t love him anymore?” he asked

Sipek, who visits Bobo’s elaborate grave marked by a headstone and statues of lions, giraffes and elephants, twice a day, found his answer after a calico house cat crawled through a hole in the garage apartment where Sipek has lived while his house is repaired.

Fearful the big cats would maul the little cat, he gave the stray away. Weeks later an identical — but different — calico crawled through the same hole and stayed. For Sipek, it was a sign.

“It had to be,” he said. “Two identical cats found the same hole. That was too much for me.”

Laissez-faire neighbors

Some of Sipek’s neighbors say his expanding menagerie is too much even for live-and-let-live Loxahatchee Groves, 12.5 square miles of large homesteads, nurseries, stables and a nudist colony where animals — horses, dogs, cats, ostriches and emus — still outnumber people.

Backdoor neighbor Kim McLain, citing Bobo’s escape and his 2002 mauling of a woman who let herself into Sipek’s property, said Sipek hasn’t shown himself responsible enough to keep wild animals.

But the majority seem to enjoy having the king of iconoclasts in their iconoclastic neighborhood.

“I actually like it,” said Richard Harkleroad, a painter who lives nearby. “In the morning I can hear the animals roar.”

And now, on occasion, a rejuvenated Sipek will join them, letting loose an unmistakable Tarzan yell.

Maya Bell can be reached at 305-810-5003 or ‘; document.write( ” ); document.write( addy_text90743 ); document.write( ‘</a>’ ); //–> .

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/orl-asec21tigers05aug21,0,

3205327.story?page=2&coll=orl-home-headlines

Dear Maya Bell

Orlando Sentinel

What a shame that so many people are being deceived into feeling sorry for Sipek, when he is the reason the tiger was shot.  His desire to have a “chick magnet” to get stupid women to do his dirty work for him all these years and his desire to feel power over a chained, cage creature has caused 102 cats to die as his pets.  Exotic cats live for 20 years; how could so many be dead?

Shortly after the Bobo incident he had one of these women, who identified herself as Cindy,  call Big Cat Rescue and ask us to take his adult cats because he wanted to buy more baby tigers.  We don’t provide a dumping ground to enable people to continue being irresponsible and low and behold, the ones he wanted to get rid of have died and he gets to be seen as the victim by you and your paper.  It makes me so mad, I could spit.

You also failed to mention that just two days ago a 17 year old girl, also drawn by a Tarzan type with big cats, was mauled to death posing with the cat for her photo. http://www.bigcatrescue.org/big_cat_news_files/2005/17yroldkilledbytiger.htm

Now THAT is sad.

 

 

Tarzan the tiger collector adopts 2 cubs

Steve Sipek, who owned a tiger that was fatally shot, plans a zoo at his home.

By Shahien Nasiripour | South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Posted June 23, 2005

LOXAHATCHEE — Tarzan’s got two new tiger cubs.

Bo and Little Bo, 6-week-old Bengal-Siberian tigers, arrived at former B-movie Tarzan Steve Sipek’s compound Friday.

Sipek is best known as the man who owned Bobo , the 600-pound declawed Bengal tiger that was fatally shot by a state wildlife officer in July after it escaped from his home.

Sipek bought the cubs from an exotic-cats breeding center north of Orlando for $3,200.

Despite losing his state license to own tigers as pets, Sipek said he found a loophole that allowed him to own more: a commercial license.

He applied for the license, an annual permit that requires him to operate a business in which he exhibits the animals, and was approved last month.

Sipek now has the two male cubs to go along with a 15-year-old Bengal Tiger named Princess, a leopard named Oko and Steffi the lioness.

He may get more.

Sipek plans to open his home as a zoo, he said. It was the only way the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission would let him own another tiger, he said.

“Tarzan’s Big Cat Sanctuary” is scheduled to open in six weeks, he said. Visitors will be able to schedule tours of the compound with Sipek by logging on to his soon-to-be-created Web site. Visitors will be led through Sipek’s home and along the series of intricately designed cages. They also will be able to have their pictures taken with Bo and Little Bo.

Neighbors seem to be happy for him.

“If I had little kids, I might be a little nervous,” said Gene Melchiori, who lives behind Sipek. “If I see them in my yard, I won’t go out and poke them with a stick, but his cats are usually friendly.”

Despite Sipek’s portrayal of the state wildlife commission as being in an adversarial role, the agency supports him too.

“We look at him the same as we would any other applicant,” state wildlife spokesman Willie Puz said. “There are certain criteria that need to be met, and so far he’s met them.”

Shahien Nasiripour is a reporter for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/orl-locbobo23

062305jun23,0,1568056.story?coll=orl-news-headlines

FL Bengal tiger escapes from cage

Officers use tranquilizer darts to capture Tristan

By Akilah Johnson

Staff Writer

Posted February 27 2005

A 500-pound tiger escaped from its cage at Panther Ridge Sanctuary in Wellington and trotted around its compound sniffing at horses for more than two hours Saturday before wildlife officers captured it, officials said.

About 9:40 a.m., a woman feeding Tristan didn’t latch the cage completely, and the Bengal tiger pushed past her and escaped, officials said. Tristan’s owner, called 911.

More than 20 Palm Beach County sheriff’s deputies and state wildlife officers arrived at 14755 Palm Beach Pointe Blvd. By noon, wildlife officers — with the help of David Hitzig, executive director Jupiter’s Busch Wildlife Sanctuary — were able to tranquilize the tiger and return it to its cage, Willie Puz, a Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission spokesman, said.

Two tranquilizer darts were be used because the first had little effect, Puz said. The second dart startled Tristan, making the cat take a couple of quick steps, Puz said. But the tiger didn’t run, and its actions weren’t much of a threat, he said.

Then, 4-year-old Tristan became groggy, lay down and went to sleep, he said.

Tristan’s escape reminded many of an incident seven months ago, when a 600-pound Bengal tiger named Bobo escaped from his cage and his compound in Loxahatchee. Bobo was on the loose for 26 hours before he was shot dead by a Conservation Commission officer, who said the cat lunged at him while he was waiting for other officers to arrive with a tranquilizer gun.

During Tristan’s two-hour jaunt Saturday, the cat approached several horses on the 10-acare property, which is both a refuge for abused, neglected or abandoned cats and a horse farm.

“The horse kind of kicked at it, and the tiger said, `I don’t want any part of this’ and just walked away,” Puz, said.

Judy Berens, Tristan’s owner, was cited for escaped captive wildlife, a second-degree misdemeanor, punishable by 60 days in jail or a $500 fine. This was her first infraction, Puz said.

Berens could not be reached for comment despite attempts by phone.

According to the sanctuary’s Web site, Panther Ridge has 16 large cats, including Amos, a black leopard, and Eros and China , two spotted leopards. Some were left with her; others Berens bought because she felt they weren’t being taken care of properly.

A German film crew doing a documentary about how easy it is to buy exotic animals in the United States bought Tristan but was unable to find a qualified zoo to adopt the tiger when the film was completed, according to the Web site.

Tristan never made it outside of the sanctuary’s perimeter fence or came in contact with the public Saturday, but officials didn’t take any chances.

“If a wild animal gets out of its cage there’s a potential for anything,” Puz said. “Even for the people who were in the compound.”

The sanctuary provides tours, but it was unclear Saturday if one was taking place when Tristan escaped.

There were sheriff’s deputies and wildlife officers with rifles inside and outside the perimeter fence in case the tiger ran or got out of the fence, officials said.

The incident with Bobo created a public furor. Bobo’s owner, former B-movie Tarzan Steve Sipek, accused the officer of killing the declawed cat unnecessarily, claiming the officer panicked and disputing the officer’s account of Bobo lunging at him.

Commission officers around the state where threatened after the shooting, something Puz said has sense subsided. He got his last piece of hate mail about Christmas, he said.

Akilah Johnson can be reached at akjohnson@sun-sentinel.com or 561-243-6645.

http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/local/palmbeach/sfl-ptiger27feb27,0,6619459.story?coll=sfla-news-palm

 

Exotic pets dwelling closer to home

By Mark Schwed, Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

Sunday, July 18, 2004

For two years, Antoine Yates kept a 400-pound tiger named Ming in his small N ew York City apartment — until the tiger mauled him and sent him to the hospital with serious injuries.

In Colton , Calif. , state officials raided a former animal trainer’s ranch and found 39 tigers, including 11 cubs hidden in a crawl space in the attic, and 58 dead tiger and lion cubs stuffed in his freezer.

New Jersey officials gunned down an escaped tiger, only to find he belonged to a woman who was keeping 29 of the beasts in her back yard.

And today a public funeral is scheduled for Bobo, the 600-pound Siberian-Bengal mix who escaped from his owner’s compound in rural Loxahatchee, only to be shot and killed by a wildlife officer who said he feared for his life. Bobo was buried Saturday in a private service.

What in the world is going on with all these tigers?

Quite simply, a population explosion of one of the most magnificent creatures on the planet, and one of the most endangered. But this mating marathon isn’t happening in the wild, it’s in America , especially Florida .

According to the American Zoo and Aquarium Association, there are now 15,000 captive tigers in the private sector, three times the number of wild tigers in Africa and Asia combined, more tigers than people know what to do with.

“Virtually every day I get a call from someone who wants to get rid of a tiger or big cat,” says Carole Lewis, 43, who has 150 of the beasts at her Big Cat Rescue in Tampa . “I turned away 312 last year. The problem is that number is doubling every year. It’s getting worse and worse. It’s insane. It’s reached a crisis point.”

Even though Florida has an outright ban on possessing tigers as personal pets, the state now has 1,455 registered tigers, a 50 percent increase in 15 months and second only to Texas in the nation. Florida also has 262 U.S. Department of Agriculture-licensed exhibitors for big cats, more than any other state. And wildlife activists say there are now more tiger breeders in the state than anywhere else.

Dangers of the business

Florida is on its way to becoming the tiger capital of the world.

“It’s downright scary,” says Linda Howard, a captive wildlife specialist who keeps track of big cat populations in America . “Those 1,455 registered tigers are the legal ones. It doesn’t include people possessing them illegally. It’s shocking.”

And dangerous. In the past five years, nine people have been mauled to death by big cats in the United States . Just last year, three people were killed, 14 were injured and hundreds of the animals either escaped or were confiscated from their owners, according to the Humane Society of the United States .

“These are highly endangered species,” says Kim Haddad, a veterinarian and manager of the Captive Wild Animal Protection Coalition. “Yet in this country we’re breeding them in the back yard and selling them like cats and dogs. It’s dangerous for people and inhumane for the animals.”

Hogwash, says Randy Davies, 43, of Phoenix , who’s been selling exotic animals for 20 years and now operates the www.wildanimalworld.com Web site. “Over the years, we’ve saved every animal you see in a zoo — elephants, giraffes, tigers. The only way they’re going to survive is if we keep them breeding and have places to put them.”

The exotic animal trade is a $15 billion worldwide business and it’s flourishing. Primates, venomous snakes, elephants, giraffes, lions, bears and tigers — all are for sale, wildlife experts say. There are 1,000 sites on the Internet that offer exotic animals.

These days, animal experts say you can pick up a cuddly tiger cub for $300, half the price of a Shih Tzu dog. A cougar costs even less.

Wayne Pacelle, chief executive of the Humane Society of the United States , says people buy them for all sorts of reasons. “They eat them, they shoot them, they keep them as pets,” he says. “It’s a whole underworld that is operating in the U.S. that victimizes literally tens of millions of animals a year.”

Jim Lolli, 55, of the Lolli Brothers Livestock Market in Macon , Mo. , has been auctioning and selling exotic animals since 1978. “I haven’t sold a tiger at auction for 20 years,” he says. “But there are a lot of people who do it. There’s a huge black market. I’ve had people say they sold a tiger to someone to shoot. It’s illegal. It’s as bad as selling cocaine.”

Or is it?

Maze of ownership rules

A dizzying array of federal, state and local laws regulate who can and cannot possess exotic animals like tigers. The Endangered Species Act makes it illegal to possess, sell or buy an endangered animal like a Bengal tiger. Except many of the tigers in the United States are “generic,” or mixed breeds like Bobo, and can be legally bred and possessed. The Lacey Act provides for prosecution of those who possess animals illegally obtained in a foreign country or another state.

But with thousands of breeders in America , no one needs to cross a U.S. or state border to own a tiger. State laws vary, with 13 states banning private ownership altogether; seven, including Florida, having a partial ban; 14 requiring a license or permit and 16 having no permit requirements at all.

Thus, in most states, “You only need a license if you’re dealing, breeding, exhibiting or conducting medical research,” says Howard, the captive wildlife specialist. “Unless there’s a municipal or state law prohibiting that, you’re home free.”

The USDA issues licenses to people who buy exotic animals with the intent to sell, or for exhibitors such as zoos and circuses. “You have to fill out an application, pay a fee and pass a prelicense inspection,” says USDA spokesman Jim Rogers. “We come out, look at your facility to see if you’re in compliance…. With Bobo or that guy in N ew York with a tiger in his apartment, we have no authority.”

Florida does have authority. It passed a law in 1980 that outlaws the possession of tigers and 21 other exotic animals as pets. Yet, wildlife activists say the state and federal requirements are easily dodged.

“All you need is 40 bucks in your pocket to get a USDA license,” says Lewis, of Tampa ‘s Big Cat Rescue. She says getting around the state law is equally simple. ” Florida is known nationwide for having the toughest laws,” Lewis says. “It went from $5 to $150 for a permit to have a tiger. All you have to do is say you’re an educator, a breeder, or you’re open to the public like a zoo. Anything except, ‘I want the tiger as a pet.’ ”

You also must have 5 acres of land, a perimeter fence and 1,000 hours of experience handling the species you want to be licensed for, says Willie Puz, spokesman for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, which is charged with enforcing the law.

“You can have your mother or brother write the letter,” Lewis says. “It’s a giant loophole.”

Three years ago, Carol Asvestas , operator of the Wild Animal Orphanage in San Antonio , had 25 big cats in her compound. N ow she has 200, including the cats from the N ew Jersey woman who kept them in her back yard. “I have animals that have bitten children, bitten models in photo shoots, that have gotten loose,” she says. “Most of the states and counties are faced with such a huge crisis with displaced exotics, that they have nowhere to put the animals. So they’re not enforcing the laws.”

What’s needed, animal experts say, is a federal law that prohibits the possession of exotic animals like tigers and the money and manpower to enforce it.

“We’ve been screaming at the top of our lungs that we need a federal law,” says Asvestas. “You can’t allow people to have these animals, whether they’re operating a sanctuary or not. This problem is absolutely going to be devastating in the next five years unless a government entity has got the guts to stand up, put their foot down and say this is not going to continue to happen.”

mark_schwed@pbpost.com

http://www.palmbeachpost.com/localnews/content/auto/

epaper/editions/sunday/local_news_049f8ea0417d2190000b.html

Dear Mark

I just wanted to thank you for writing such a well informed article.  So much of the drivel that has been posted about “Tarzan’s Tiger” missed the point.  The bigger issue of how little this industry is regulated, despite the illusion of being governed, is the important story and you covered it well.  It was obvious that you really dug beneath the surface and found the discrepancies in the way things really are, vs the way the public thinks they are.  It is this sort of wake up call that educates people and I appreciate you doing your part to inform the public about these issues that are important from a safety standpoint as much as from a compassionate perspective.  If you are ever in Tampa , feel free to give me a call on the cell and I will give you a behind the scenes tour of the result of so many people making ill informed decisions.

Posted on Tue, Oct. 26, 2004

No charges filed against Tarzan actor in escaped tiger case

Associated Press

WEST PALM BEACH , Fla. – Prosecutors have decided not to charge a former Tarzan actor in the escape of a 600-pound tiger last July.

A Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officer shot and killed the tiger July 13 after the big cat allegedly lunged at him following a 26-hour hunt for his capture.

Commission investigators had filed a probable cause affidavit charging Steve Sipek with allowing captive wildlife to escape and causing a threat to the public.

But prosecutors filed a court document Monday saying it was unable to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Sipek negligently left his tiger in an unsafe situation which allowed it to escape, The Miami Herald reported.

The state also couldn’t disprove Sipek’s allegation that a third party let the tiger out of the compound, Palm Beach County Assistant State Attorney Paul Zacks wrote in the document.

Sipek, who played Tarzan in B-movies decades ago, lives with five other big cats in a compound about 10 miles west of West Palm Beach .

Information from: The Miami Herald, http://www.herald.com

http://www.miami.com/mld/miamiherald/news/state/10021505.htm?1c

 

Shooting of escaped tiger justified agency says in report

Posted on Mon, Jul. 26, 2004 Herald Staff Report

A state wildlife officers issued a report today that concluded an officer used sound judgment and complied with the agency’s procedures when he fatally wounded an escaped Bengal tiger named Bobo on July 13 in Loxahatchee.

After the death of the escaped, 600-pound tiger, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission received so many death threats that employees who were not sworn officers were urged not to wear their uniforms.

The incident set off public outcry from people who are calling the shooting ”murder,” including the tiger’s owner, former Tarzan actor Steve Sipek.

The critical incident review issued today was described by the agency as a routine measure to determine if an officer followed agency protocol during a high-profile event and whether the FWC should change current policies.

According to the news release from agency spokesman Willie Puz, “The tiger escaped from its compound at Loxahatchee July 12, and remained at large for 26 hours before FWC officers moved into position to tranquilize the highly agitated and disoriented cat. Three previous encounters with the escaped animal failed to return it safely to its owner, despite the owner’s attempts to calm the tiger.

‘On the fourth attempt, the tiger lunged toward an FWC officer while the tranquilizer team sped to the scene, and the officer fired five rounds to end the threat to himself and other officers at the scene. “ `People have second-guessed the officer from an emotional vantage point,’ said FWC Capt. John West. `But place yourself in the officer’s position. You’re face to face with a 600-pound tiger. The cat is hungry, disoriented and agitated. The tiger turns to you, pins its ears back, bares its teeth and moves toward you. You have a fraction of a second to decide what action to take. What would you do?’

“In a similar situation at the Knoxville Zoo in 1974, an escaped tiger killed a veterinarian, even after the veterinarian had hit the cat with a tranquilizer dart. Tranquilizer darts, even with the appropriate dosage and a direct hit, take a minute or more to take effect on an animal that can break a human’s neck with one swipe of its paws.

‘ `There should be no mistake about these large, carnivorous predators,’ said Lt. Col. Don Holway, deputy director of the FWC Division of Law Enforcement. ‘These are not pets that can be treated like a house cat. These are dangerous animals, capable of killing a human. They do not have control over their innate, basic instincts. This should be clearly obvious in light of the documented attacks that have occurred.’ ”

The incidents listed by the agency in its report include:

. Orlando — In 1977, a female lion cub was seized from an unlicensed individual and turned over to a permitted handler in the Orlando area. Three years later the same lion attacked and killed the handler, while the handler fed the animal.

. Miami — In 1993, a zookeeper entered the paddock area of an exhibit thinking he had secured all the animals. A tiger appeared from the moat area, about 50-60 feet away. The keeper attempted to retreat to safety, however, the tiger quickly closed distance and attacked the man, resulting in his instant death.

. Webster — In 1996, an FWC officer saved a man from an attack by a tiger. The tiger had pounced on the man, in a paddock area, knocking him to the ground and critically injuring him. The man remained still and the tiger left him on the ground while it paced 20 feet away. The tiger occasionally moved to the man and pawed at him. The officer, armed with only his service pistol, maneuvered a vehicle between the two and successfully rescued the handler.

. Alachua — In 1998, while attempting to maintain control of a tiger, an assistant slipped and fell. The tiger attacked and killed the man.

. Alachua — One month later, the same tiger attacked and killed the owner. She had raised the tiger since birth.

. Bushnell — In 2001, a tiger attacked and killed a maintenance worker who was completing repairs on an adjoining cage. The animal lunged at a small hole in the chain link separating the two areas. This tore the fencing open and allowed the tiger to gain access to the area where the man was working.

The agency’s statement continued:

“Meanwhile, a criminal investigation into conditions that led to the tiger’s escape from its compound still is in progress to determine whether the cat’s owner was negligent in keeping the animal in unsafe conditions. Investigators will turn their findings over to the State Attorney’s Office for review.

“This was the third time dangerous large cats have escaped from the compound owned by Steve Sipek. On the two previous occasions, the state wildlife agency managed to return the escaped animals safely. “In another incident the same tiger attacked a woman and crushed her skull inside Sipek’s compound. The victim survived. Sipek is one of three people in Florida who have permits to possess extremely dangerous cats as personal pets. The FWC no longer issues such permits but allows current permit holders to retain their pets.”

http://www.miami.com/mld/miamiherald/news/9247745.htm?1c

 

Rules followed in tiger’s death, inquiry finds

By Akilah Johnson

Staff Writer

Posted July 27 2004

The officer who shot and killed Bobo waited more than 20 minutes for backup officers equipped with tranquilizer guns before he opened fire on the nearly 600-pound tiger that escaped from a former Tarzan actor’s home, a preliminary state investigation concluded Monday.

During that time, Officer Jesse C. Lee told investigators that he worried that surrounding noises — his radio, a hovering helicopter and loud passers-by — were upsetting the tiger, which began to roar, pinned his ears back and show his teeth.

He asked the team to hurry but was forced to shoot the cat twice in the head before backup arrived.

State investigators determined that Lee, whose name had been previously withheld because of death threats, acted “in good faith” and complied with agency use of force standards in the July 13 shooting.

Still, the investigation revealed there were several factors that contributed to the outcome. One was the delay in getting the tranquilizer team on the scene. The second was Lee’s lack of training in dealing with what the state classifies as “dangerous species.” And the third was Lee’s proximity to the animal, which the report determined was too close.

Bobo’s owner, Steve Sipek, doesn’t believe the report.

“The lying continues. It just never stops,” Sipek said. “Jesse Lee was trigger happy, had no common sense and had no reason to go near that tiger. He just freaked out and started shooting.”

Lee, 24, has been a Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission officer since April 2002. He is a member of the special operations group, skilled in such things as close quarters combat, man tracking and land navigation, according to wildlife officials. The group is a quasi-military, reconnaissance team trained to deal with anti-terrorism efforts in Florida ‘s swamps and marshes, not to capture escaped tigers, officials said.

“Only certain officers in the division of law are certified in handling exotic animals. N one of our [special operations group] team are,” Capt. Lee Beach, southeast commander of the team said Monday.

Lee was given the location of a paw print, which was to be his assigned post. He spotted another paw print and got in his truck and headed north toward Kimberly McLain’s property. As he looked for additional tracks, McLain showed up.

Lee asked whether there was water on the property, and the two began to walk north along a fence toward a pond. They approached a clearing and saw Bobo’s hindquarters sticking out from some undergrowth. They backed out of the area.

“Because of his contact with this person, he ended up in a little bit closer position,” wildlife spokesman Officer Jorge Pino said. “Should he have? Yes. That’s his job. He needs to intervene whenever he feels there is something there.”

Back at their trucks, he told McLain to get back in her vehicle while he radioed for assistance. As he waited for other wildlife officers to arrive, Lee grabbed his M-4 rifle. Lee was to keep an eye on the tiger, and Officer Scott Van Buren arrived to back him up. Both were to wait for the tranquilizer team.

The request for the tranquilizer went out at 5:02 p.m.

About 15 to 20 minutes passed “when Lee gave him a gesture indicating, `Where are they?'” the report says. As Van Buren tried to find out, Lee told him Bobo was moving. Van Buren called it in and moved forward, shouldering his shotgun. As he did that, the report said Lee began moving back, “repeatedly saying, `Scott, Scott, Scott.'”

Lee told investigators that he took three steps back, the tiger lunged, and he opened fire.

“It all happened so fast. I remember backing up, and after everything was said and done, I shot until the cat was down,” Lee told investigators. Lee fired five times; Bobo was struck twice.

The “shots fired” call came in about 5:20 p.m. , and officers armed with tranquilizer guns still had not arrived.

“The area where this whole thing happened is not like running 300 or 400 yards in the middle of the street,” Pino said Monday. Besides struggling through heavy terrain, the officers were trying to position themselves around Bobo in case he did not respond to the sedative, he said.

According to necropsy reports, the cat died from “massive hard and soft tissue damage in the head and neck region.” Upon impact, the bullets “mushroomed and fragmented,” the report says. There were extensive skull fractures, and hundreds of metal fragments were removed from Bobo’s head area, the report said.

Akilah Johnson can be reached at akjohnson@sun-sentinel.com or 561-243-6645.

http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/local/broward/sfl-cpbobo27jul27,0,270496.story?coll=sfla-news-broward

 

Shouldnt house pets actually fit in the house?

Posted on Mon, Jul. 26, 2004

By KEVI N COWHERD

The Baltimore Sun

Let’s begin with this hypothetical situation: you’ve just moved into a new house and now it’s time to meet the neighbors.

Which is when you discover the neighbors have a pet.

But this pet isn’t a golden retriever or a Siamese cat or a cockatiel, or something like that.

No, this pet is a tiger.

And not some cute little tiger cub that weighs 20 pounds and gets fed with a baby bottle and makes everyone laugh when he claws the drapes.

No, this is a 600-pound tiger.

With a head the size of a microwave oven and big teeth that look like they could rip through bank vaults.

Would you have a problem with this?

If your answer is something like: ” N o, that would be fine, I love animals and would have no problem living next door to a large jungle cat that could kill and strip the carcass of a water buffalo in 20 minutes,” there is no point in you reading any further.

Because there’s obviously something wrong with you.

And you probably subscribe to the philosophy espoused by the lunatic fringe of pet owners, a philosophy that seems to be: N o matter how big or how dangerous an animal is, if I want it in my home, I should be able to have it.

In fact, our hypothetical example above closely mirrors the case of Steve Sipek, the Florida man who, until last week, owned a tiger named Bobo.

Bobo, you may have heard, is now deceased.

The reason Bobo is no longer with us is that he escaped from Sipek’s home in a rural area 10 miles from West Palm Beach and was shot after he lunged at wildlife officers who cornered him after a 26-hour search.

The officers were hoping to get close enough to fire a tranquilizer dart and capture him alive, but things didn’t go according to plan.

They often don’t when you’re dealing with wild animals.

Generally, when a tiger sees a bunch of guys with rifles and badges creeping up on him, he’s not thinking: Well, the jig’s up. Might as well go quietly.

Instead, if he’s hungry, he’s thinking: Yo, my take-out order just arrived!

I’m not going to get into whether the shooting of Bobo could have been prevented — although if I were an armed wildlife officer and a 600-pound tiger lunged at me, I don’t think yelling ”Bad Bobo!” would be enough to save me.

And there’s no doubt that Sipek, a former actor who played Tarzan in two movies in the late ’60s and ’70s, genuinely loved Bobo and was grief-stricken over his death.

But the question is: what in God’s name is a homeowner doing with a pet tiger?

Rural Sumatra — now that’s a good place for tigers.

Not rural Florida .

According to the Florida newspapers, though, Sipek is one of only two people in the state to have a permit to keep large cats as pets.

And I’m sure his neighbors will be comforted to know that Sipek has another tiger at home, along with a panther, a cougar and a pair of lions.

But just because you have a permit for these animals, that doesn’t make the whole situation right.

Sipek told The Palm Beach Post that Bobo probably escaped when a woman Sipek had a ”bad relationship” with broke into his compound and left the gate open.

At my house, if someone leaves the gate open, you got an 11-pound Shih-Tzu running around the streets, ready to lick someone to death.

A gate gets left open at Sipek’s place and half of South Florida ‘s law enforcement agencies get called out for a safari.

Of course, it’s not just Florida where idiot pet owners are keeping animals that are too big and dangerous for the environment.

It’s everywhere.

In Carroll County , Md. , animal control officers were called to remove a pet African lion from a home in Finksburg four years ago.

I know, I know hasn’t everyone had a pet lion at one time or another?

Sure they have.

You start with the box turtle and goldfish, move up to the gerbils and hamsters, go through rabbits and parrots and into the puppy and kitten phase.

Then next thing you know, you’re leafing through Exotic Animals Today and thinking: ”Boy, wouldn’t it be cool to have a lion around here? The back yard’s big enough, don’t you think?”

By the way, Carroll County Animal Control has also received calls to remove pet jaguars, orangutans, boa constrictors and giant lizards from homes.

And I used to think people were nuts to own ferrets.

http://www.montereyherald.com/mld/montereyherald/living/9245242.htm

mheditor@montereyherald.com

Shouldn’t house pets fit in the house?

I thought the article was right on target, but there was a quote from the Florida Department of Game and Fish that was misleading to the press; ie that Steve Sipek is one of two people in Florida licensed to have a pet tiger.  The key word there is “pet” but the fact is that there are over 400 places in Florida that are licensed to have tigers and other big cats in their back yard.  Three are accredited sanctuaries and five or six are accredited zoos.  The rest are people who claim to be sanctuaries, but who breed and sell big cats as pets, places who admittedly are breeding facilities who say all their tigers go to zoos, when in fact most are sold as pets and people who charge a fee for you to come see their private collections who are referred to as road side zoos.  There are 4700 such exotic pet licenses floating about Florida that include animals up to the size of cougars.

The scary thing is that all of these people qualified for a license by having someone (anyone) write a letter saying they had 1000 hours experience with a big cat, a $150.00 permit fee and a cage that was 12 x 15 for a tiger.   The permit fee was only 5.00 until last year and you can have as many animals as you want for that one fee.  No one counts your animals.  N o one is notified when you buy and sell.  You may see an inspector once in a year, or five.  They are underpaid and understaffed and cannot handle the enormity of the problem.

The biggest issue is that there is no need for all of this breeding.  The Tiger Species Survival Plan calls for 2 cubs to be born in Florida this year and they are to be the pairing from two accredited zoos.  Everyone else who is breeding is doing so to profit from the sale of the cubs to people who are ill prepared to care for nature’s most powerful predator.

Big Cat Rescue is an accredited rescue facility and had to turn away 312 big cats last year and over 100 already this year.  Each year that number has been doubling.  People love the cubs, but don’t want what they become.  Amazingly, there are a huge number that still don’t know that cubs grow up to be big cats.  That is where the media can play such an important role.  Dry up the demand and the suppliers go away.

The following is a partial listing of incidents involving captive big cats since 1990. These incidents have resulted in the killing or deaths of 178 big cats, 55 human deaths, and more than 185 human injuries.

Since April 2003, big cat incidents include, 4 human fatalities, 18 human injuries, 124 animal fatalities, 28 animal escapes & 224 confiscations.http://www.bigcatrescue.org/big_cat_news.htm

 

 

150 attend slain tiger’s elaborate public funeral

By Shahien N asiripour

Staff Writer

Posted July 19 2004

LOXAHATCHEE — More than 150 people — some mournful, others curious — gathered at Steve Sipek’s C Road compound Sunday evening for one final memorial to the former Tarzan’s slain tiger, Bobo.

Buried on the property during a private funeral the previous day, Sunday’s public funeral was replete with flowers, songs, poems, prayer and a eulogy for the slain feline.

Guests gathered near the many petitions and donation buckets around the compound.

Before rain scattered the crowd and ended the memorial, Sipek, wearing a white T-shirt with Bobo’s picture, passed out pictures the Bengal-Siberian tiger.

Similar to Thursday’s vigil, questions swirled about why the escaped tiger was shot Tuesday by a Florida Fish and Wildlife officer.

But Sipek, exhausted from the Bobo blitz that has been his life since the feline escaped his compound Monday, addressed the crowd in a much more subdued tone, choosing to memorialize Bobo rather than rail against the state wildlife agency.

Still, after a week of coping with the tiger’s loss, Sipek said he and his supporters, many of whom he had not met until this week, will continue to fight for their justice.

It’s never going to stop. We want justice for Bobo,” Sipek said. “Bobo had to die to bring all of us together and fight for our rights. He did not die in vain. The people have spoken.”

Sipek and his army of full-time supporters will focus on fund raising by holding a few concert benefits, a race at Moroso Motorsports Park and starting a national foundation in Bobo’s name to raise money for exotic cat sanctuaries.

There are also petitions to persuade the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to allow Sipek to keep his felines.

The one-time actor, who portrayed Tarzan in Spanish-language films, still has several big cats on his compound.

“The movement hasn’t even started,” said Jessica Laurain, a Sipek friend. “We’ve only just begun.”

The state wildlife commission investigation into the tiger’s escape and subsequent shooting death will not be completed for several weeks, but Sipek has hired private investigators because he said he doesn’t trust the agency.

The memorial, though, did not focus on Bobo’s death. It focused on Bobo and Sipek, who has become a tragic figure to many in the neighborhood.

“He’s been through so much. We’re just here to support Steve,” said Josie Otero, of West Palm Beach . “He’s doing a wonderful thing with these cats, and Bobo never should have happened. He needs all the love and support he can get right now.”

While many of the guests were animal activists wearing tiger print clothing or recently made Bobo T-shirts, some neighbors were there just to support a fellow Loxahatchee resident.

“The community bonded together because of [Bobo’s death]. We’re a family now,” said Jeffrey Bohorquez, 20, of Loxahatchee.

Bohorquez moved from West Palm Beach eight months ago.

“We have to show our support for Loxahatchee,” he said.

Shahien Nasiripour can be reached at snasiripour@sun-sentinel.com or 561-243-6690.

Copyright © 2004, South Florida Sun-Sentinel

http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/local/southflorida/sfl-

pbobo19jul19,0,7956723.story?coll=sfla-home-headlines

Dear Shahien

I too am outraged at this senseless loss of life, but it is obviously the fault of any person who would make a pet of a wild animal.  I would go a step further and say that stupid people can’t be held entirely responsible when our government allows them the right to own nature’s top predator.  I would also find fault with the general population who is so apathetic to the situation that legislation is driven more by those who breed and sell tigers than those who think there is no good reason to do that.  If not for people like Sipek who portray these animals as pets there would be no market for the breeders.

There are laws (finally) against selling big cats across state lines as pets and in the state of Florida you cannot get a permit to own a big cat as a pet, but the loopholes in both laws are so gaping that even someone with the IQ of Tarzan could leap through them.  All you have to do is say that you are a tiger breeder to avoid both laws.  Why is that OK?

Ron Tilson , the head of the tiger species survival plan, that is carried out via accredited zoos, says that the state of Florida needs to produce 2 or 3 tigers this year for the plan to work and that those pairings are already planned in two major zoos.  N o one else needs to be breeding tigers, or any other exotic cat, so why is that allowed?

The following is a partial listing of incidents involving captive big cats since 1990. These incidents have resulted in the killing or deaths of 178 big cats, 55 human deaths, and more than 185 human injuries.

According to the Captive Wild Animal Protection Coalition, since April 2003, big cat incidents include, 4 human fatalities, 18 human injuries, 124 animal fatalities, 28 animal escapes & 223 confiscations. http://www.bigcatrescue.org/big_cat_news.htm

I hope your article about Steve Sipek using this tragedy to line his own pockets and to encourage ownership of big cats as pets, despite the fact that he has proven himself unable to deal with them in a responsible manner,  will outrage enough people with some intelligence that this sort of trade in exotic cats is finally stopped.

 

 

LOXAHATCHEE, Fla. — A two-day search for a 600-pound Bengal tiger named Bobo that had escaped from a five-acre compound ended Tuesday when a wildlife officer shot and killed the big cat as it lunged toward him.

Bobo, a 6-year-old declawed cat owned by former Tarzan actor Steve Sipek, escaped from his home on C Road in Loxahatchee Monday afternoon.

“This has been a long 26 hours for all of us,” Maj. Brett Norton, regional commander for the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission said. “We made every attempt to try and capture Bobo.”

Norton said an officer saw the tiger along a fence about 5:30 p.m. and radioed for the dart team. As the unidentified officer waited for the team, Bobo turned around and faced him. With his ears down and teeth showing, the cat lunged. Fearing for his life, the officer fired his rifle and shot Bobo.

Sipek was distraught.

“I told them, `Please do not go out there without me,'” said a tearful Sipek, who was smeared with blood after cradling the body of his pet. “They promised.”

Sipek said he could have brought Bobo home if he was called. He said he got a call that Bobo was seen in a neighbor’s yard. As he approached, he heard five shots, he said.

“They murdered him. They murdered him. They murdered my Bobo,” he wailed.

Wildlife officials would not reveal how many times Bobo was shot or the name of the officer. A necropsy will be performed.

The reaction to Bobo’s death was swift and passionate from neighbors, big cat experts and animal lovers.

Friends and acquaintances who had known Bobo came from all over the county to comfort Sipek.

Roxanne Feola, who pulled onto the shoulder of Okeechobee Road as Sipek was addressing news crews, threw her arms around his chest and buried her head in his shoulder.

“Bobo was the last cub Steve bought and I raised him from a baby,” cried Feola, of Lake Worth, who helped Sipek care for his animals for 10 years. She remembered Bobo drinking from a baby bottle, the “sweetest tiger you ever could imagine.”

Cheryl Churchill, a friend of Sipek’s, hadn’t seen him in more than a year.

“I knew Bobo and he was not an aggressive animal,” she said. “I’ve petted him. I’ve given him water.”

About 40 friends and neighbors gathered at the corner of C Road and Okeechobee Boulevard at 8:30 p.m. for a candlelight vigil. Many in the community have pets such as peacocks, goats and even a camel. They’re united in their affection for these animals.

After hugging neighbors and well-wishers waiting for him on the road, Sipek trudged up the dirt drive, pressed open the gate and went to the first fenced area. Princess, a 15-year-old tiger who limps because of an early injury, ambled over to the gate and rubbed her head against the bars.

“Hello, baby, I’ve got something to tell you. They murdered Bobo,” sobbed Sipek, letting himself inside the tiger’s cage. Flies and bugs dotted his stained shirt and jeans.

Postal worker Jan Mahoney first noticed Bobo outside the compound around 2:30 p.m. Monday. He was lying behind a mound of freshly cut palm fronds and appeared harmless as he chewed on grass next to Sipek’s property.

“I was nervous, but I didn’t feel threatened,” Mahoney said. “He was close enough to touch.”

Throughout the day Tuesday, scouting teams combed the woods looking for Bobo. Officers were stationed at three vantage points: up high, in open spaces and along fence lines. The search involved rotating shifts of 12 to 15 state wildlife officers, four to six sheriff’s officials and Sipek. State wildlife’s Special Operations Group provided a five-man team, armed with 9mm pistols, 12-gauge shotguns and M-4 rifles. Three other state wildlife investigators were armed with 50-foot-range tranquilizer rifles, wildlife commission Lt. Charles Dennis said.

Officer Jorge Pino, a wildlife agency spokesman, said all options for capturing the animal were considered. The notion that the wildlife officers aren’t trained to catch large animals is a common misconception, he said.

“The investigators are certified to do exactly what they did,” Pino said. “I’m talking about investigators who have 20-plus years doing just this.”

Part of that training means using lethal force only as a last resort, Norton said.

“Our officers were made very clear on the rules of engagement,” he said. “They were not to take direct shots unless their lives were in imminent danger.”

Officers initially set up to contain Bobo so that he would go back home on his own, said Dennis, lead investigator for the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission. “He’s more than likely trying to get back home,” he said at 2 p.m. Tuesday. “We’re trying to assist him.”

Sipek could be billed for the as-yet undetermined cost of the search if he is found to be negligent, though no decision has been made, said wildlife commission spokesman Willie Puz.

Officers were within seven feet of catching Bobo late Monday afternoon before a news helicopter hovering above scared Bobo away, wildlife officials said.

Sipek holds one of about 10 licenses in the state allowing him to keep exotic animals as pets, said Henry Cabbage, a wildlife commission spokesman in Tallahassee. Sipek has four other large cats on his property. Sipek has an excellent record, with only one violation in 1993 for not renewing his license, which he corrected, Cabbage said. He hasn’t had any violations since.

After an investigation about two years ago into an incident in which Bobo pounced on and hurt Sipek’s friend, Carol Pistilli, state wildlife officials found no evidence of negligence by Sipek, wildlife officials said. Sipek renewed the license this year.

Some experts warn of more exotic animals meeting the same fate as Bobo.

“There is an epidemic of people keeping big cats as pets and that problem needs to be addressed in a fundamental way,” said Wayne Pacelle, chief executive officer of the Humane Society of the United States. “These animals belong in their native habitats in Asia or Africa and they should not be languishing in cages in people’s back yards or basements.”

Still, he didn’t think the animal should’ve been killed.

“You would think that the animal could have been tranquilized,” Pacelle said. “But the blame really rests with people who somehow think that they can safely keep one of the largest and most lethal predators in the world as a pet.”

Judy Berens, who owns Panther Ridge Sanctuary, has 16 large cats, including a tiger, seven cougars, leopards and others. She was saddened by the news of Bobo’s shooting. But she said she couldn’t blame wildlife officials for what happened.

“I can’t criticize the police for this,” Berens said. “They don’t deal with this on a regular basis.”

Staff Writers Diane C. Lade and Sam Tranum and Staff Researcher Barbara Hijek contributed to this report.

Luis F. Perez can be reached at lfperez@sun-sentinel.com or 561-243-6641.

http://www.newsday.com/news/nationworld/nation/ny-ustig0715,0,3455271.story?coll=ny-nationalnews-headlines

Woman who offered pig to lure tiger faces cruelty charge

By Scott McCabe, Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Thursday, July 15, 2004

 

Someone squealed on the lady who brought the pig.

The Loxahatchee woman who offered her pig as bait to capture Bobo the tiger will be cited for animal cruelty for hauling the 5-month-old porker in her trunk, according to Animal Care and Control Director Diane Sauve.

Linda Meredith drove from her home to C Road and Okeechobee Road with her Yorkshire pig Monday shortly after learning that the 600-pound tiger belonging to a one-time B-movie Tarzan Steve Sipek had escaped his 5-acre compound.

Meredith, wearing a tiger print and a gold lion medallion, pleaded with deputies to take the piglet named Baby by its hind legs or twist its ears to make it squeal and attract the hungry tiger.

Animal Care and Control Director Diane Sauve immediately ordered her staff to check into the incident, she said, even before complaints from animal rights activists poured in.

“I was appalled,” Sauve said. “Carrying an animal in a trunk in 90-degree heat, where it’s probably 140 degrees inside, is not acceptable.”

Even pigs transported for slaughter are required by law to be moved humanely, Suave said.

An investigator told Meredith that she’d get at least a $91 citation, Meredith said. Suave said she’ll meet with her counterparts in the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office today to determine the charges.

Meredith said her Cadillac’s trunk is air conditioned and that she was going to eat the pig anyway when it got full grown. Meredith’s upset that state Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officials didn’t try to use a live animal to lure the exotic animal before shooting it to death Tuesday.

“I can’t believe they have the gall,” Meredith said. “I was just trying to help the tiger find his way back home. Apparently, it’s not nice to be nice.”

scott_mccabe@pbpost.com

http://www.palmbeachpost.com/localnews/content/auto

/epaper/editions/thursday/local_news_045fce3ca30630b4004a.html

State wildlife agency slammed over shooting of pet tiger

By Nancy L. Othón, Shahien Nasiripour and Akilah Johnson
Sun-Sentinel
Posted July 15 2004

LOXAHATCHEE — State wildlife officials defended themselves against an onslaught of criticism Wednesday for killing Bobo, the nearly 600-pound tiger that made international headlines by escaping from a former Tarzan actor’s home.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission again refused to name the officer who shot Bobo Tuesday, because of an ongoing investigation and to protect the officer, officials said.

Since the shooting, which happened a few hundred yards from the 5-acre C Road compound where Steve Sipek lives with five other exotic big cats, local residents have harassed wildlife officers about Bobo’s death. The agency has received thousands of irate e-mails and calls from around the globe.

“It’s a really bad scene for our agency right now,” Maj. Brett Norton said. “If this had gone the other way and my officer was laying there mauled, what would be the take on this now?”

Sipek, who portrayed Tarzan in two movies and keeps his animals in a maze of cages, appeared on three network television morning shows Wednesday, accusing wildlife officers of killing his beloved pet without provocation. He appeared on CNN’s Larry King Live and was to appear early today on ABC’s late-night show Jimmy Kimmel Live.

As well-wishers visited Sipek Wednesday to offer condolences and express their rage and frustration with state wildlife authorities, he fought back tears while offering his account of the killing.

“They murdered him in cold blood,” Sipek said. “They killed a poor, defenseless animal. They killed him deliberately.”

Sipek said he has been overwhelmed by the public support, getting calls from as far away as England, Germany and Sweden. He plans to bury Bobo on the property, next to the cat’s two friends Tony, a tiger, and cougar Misho.

Bobo escaped Monday afternoon through gates opened by someone who knew the cages had hidden locks, Sipek said. He has cared for 102 exotic cats since 1969, and now wants more tigers.

“I’ll get 50 more tigers. They think Tarzan is crazy, but he’s not,” he said. “They’ve been trying to get rid of my animals for 35 years. I’d like to see them do that now. I’ll die with my babies.”

But the mission for wildlife officers and a wildlife expert who helped with the search was always to reunite Bobo with Sipek, officials said.

David Hitzig, executive director of the Busch Wildlife Sanctuary in Jupiter, hoped for a happy outcome.

“It made perfect sense that what we needed to do was to get Steve Sipek and the cat together. There was never any dispute or discrepancy over that,” he said.

If they saw Bobo, wildlife officers were told to immediately radio for the tranquilizer dart team — composed of Hitzig and two lieutenants — and keep the cat in sight without disturbing him, Hitzig said. The plan then called for Sipek to come to the scene, and to tranquilize Bobo only if he couldn’t be coaxed home.

Hitzig was on his way to Bobo when he heard gunshots. Immediately, there was radio traffic and a flurry of questions, Hitzig said.

“We were in a dead run at that point, going to where the cat was,” Hitzig said. “The cat was still alive when I got to it. I did everything that I could.”

Fatally wounded, Bobo was bleeding from his mouth and nose.

Within moments, Hitzig said, the officer was apologizing for shooting Bobo, but repeatedly said he had no choice. Bobo had hissed and lunged at the officer, who shot it with an M-4 rifle.

Norton said five bullet casings were found but officials don’t yet know how many times Bobo was shot. The cat will be taken today to the University of Florida so the head of pathology can perform a necropsy. Norton said the agency decided to have it done there to get an unbiased opinion.

Bobo was shot in the shoulder area, but the necropsy will provide forensic evidence showing how many times Bobo was shot, the bullets’ trajectory and an exact cause of death.

Not all wildlife officers have tranquilizer guns because the narcotic in darts is strictly regulated and each officer would have to receive additional training to carry a dart gun, Norton said.

But even if the officer had a tranquilizer gun, Hitzig said, Bobo would have been able to attack the officer because a tranquilizer can take one to six minutes to take effect. If Bobo was lunging at the officer, the dart would not have stopped his actions, Hitzig said.

Sipek rushed to the scene after the shooting. Because the officers were moving west and Bobo was found facing in that direction as well, Sipek think the cat posed no threat.

“He never had a chance to escape,” he said.

Wildlife officials said they had sent someone to get Sipek at home and a lieutenant tried to call Sipek but couldn’t find his phone number on his cell phone. Norton said he authorized lethal force only if an officer’s life was threatened.

Wildlife commission Lt. Patrick Reynolds was part of the dart team sprinting toward Bobo. He said having an officer with more experience dealing with large, caged animals as first responder might have changed the ending.

Bobo showing his teeth and hissing might have been nothing more than a bluff, said Reynolds, an investigator with 25 years of experience.

“I would tend to think all that a bluff,” he said.

Still, Reynolds said he was not second-guessing the officer’s actions.

Two investigations, one to determine how Bobo escaped Sipek’s compound and another into the shooting, will be conducted. Sipek could face criminal charges and be billed for the search if the investigation concludes he was negligent.

At least two animal advocacy groups on Wednesday called for the state’s wildlife commission to revoke Sipek’s exotic animal license.

The Captive Wild Animal Protection Coalition, a group representing 20 zoos, sanctuaries and animal organizations, said Sipek should conform to current laws. Sipek holds one of a handful of licenses in Florida allowing him to own exotic animals as pets.

“He’s putting the community at risk,” said Kim Haddad, a veterinarian and coalition manager. “And he’s putting the tiger at risk.”

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals sent a letter to the wildlife commission, listing two other incidents involving Sipek’s cats: Bobo’s attack on a friend of Sipek’s two years ago that left permanent injuries and a 1985 escape of a three-legged black panther that returned a day later.

“Given Sipek’s history and this most recent occurrence, revocation of his license is justified, and Sipek’s remaining big cats should be confiscated and transferred to an accredited sanctuary,” wrote Lisa Wathne, an exotic animal specialist with PETA.

Staff Writer Luis F. Perez contributed to this report.

Nancy L. Othón can be reached at

nothon@sun-sentinel.com or 561-243-6633.
http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/local/southflorida/

sfl-pbobo15jul15,0,6121707.story?coll=sfla-home-headlines

 

 

Tiger Loose in FL

 

Cat owner devoted to his animals, friends, peers say

 

By Rachel Sauer, Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

 

Say what you want about Steve Sipek, but the man loves those cats. That’s the one thing people who know him agree on.

 

So when Bobo, a 6-year-old, 600-pound Bengal-Siberian mix tiger escaped from his Loxahatchee compound Monday night and was killed Tuesday, Sipek was devastated.

 

“Bobo’s his baby,” said Roxanne Feola, who has worked with Sipek’s cats for 10 years. “I think he stayed out there all night looking for him.”

 

Sipek, who is 62 and has a 38-year-old son, has raised big cats for more than 30 years. He came to his love of cats through a love of Tarzan, who he portrayed in two Spanish-language movies. In a 2000 New Times story, he said he grew up in Croatia watching Johnny Weissmuller play Tarzan and was mesmerized. At 17, he fled Croatia through the mountains, bouncing from Austria to France to Canada and landing in Miami in 1959.

 

 

Lion saved him in 1972

 

Sipek told the newspaper he sent a photo of himself to a movie producer, who arranged an audition. In 1970, he starred under the name Steven Hawkes in Tarzán en la Gruta del Oro (Tarzan in the Grotto of Gold) and in Tarzán y el Arco Iris (Tarzan and the Rainbow) in 1972. He also co-wrote and starred in 1972’s Blood Freak.

 

However, he told New Times, it was an incident that occurred while filming Tarzán y el Arco Iris that turned him on to big cats. He said a fire lit for dramatic effect got out of control, burning 90 percent of his body. The crew ran, he said, but a lion on the set dragged him to safety.

 

Shortly thereafter, Sipek moved to South Florida . He has lived on 5 acres on C Road in Loxahatchee for more than 10 years.

 

He supports himself doing granite and fencing work.

 

A constant concern, he told New Times, is money — not so much for himself, but to support his cats.

 

“He just loves those cats,” said next-door neighbor Hertha Horner, in whose driveway Bobo was discovered lounging Monday afternoon. “He’s an eccentric, he’s different, but he loves the cats.”

 

“That’s something you never question about him,” said Barbara Harrod, who co-owns Vanishing Species Wildlife Sanctuary in Pembroke Pines .

 

 

Compound called confusing

 

What some do question, however, is the way in which Sipek and the cats live. Mark McCarthy, owner of McCarthy’s Wildlife Sanctuary in The Acreage, said he doesn’t feel comfortable at Sipek’s compound because “I can’t tell if I’m in a cage or out of a cage.”

 

“I personally think he takes good care of his animals,” McCarthy said. “However, his place is, how should I put this, it’s kind of like Sanford and Son with cats. It really needs to be brought up to code. You go to his place and it’s very confusing.”

 

Carole Lewis, director of Big Cat Rescue in Tampa and president of the Association of Sanctuaries, said Sipek and other big cat owners like him concern her because for $150 they can get a state permit to have big cats, regardless of whether they know how to care for them.

 

Sipek’s friends contend he does. Feola said his bond with his animals is obvious, as evidenced by the fact that he mingles freely with them and sleeps in a room that the cats can wander into whenever they want.

 

“The other day Steve was showing us out on the street where he’d fallen asleep next to Bobo on the floor and that big ol’ 700-pound cat will still suck on his thumb like a baby,” said neighbor Doug Cuthbert, whose son Josh loves the big cats. “He was talking about the cat started having a nightmare… and he popped ol’ Steven’s side and bit him a little. He had a couple marks on his side. But I guess that’s your choice if you want to live with a freakin’ animal.”

 

Sipek knows they’re animals, Feola said, and knows they can be dangerous. But he loves them just the same.

 

rachel_sauer@pbpost.com

 

 

 

 

 

By Luis F. Perez, Shahien Nasiripour and Akilah K. Johnson

Sun-Sentinel

Posted July 14 2004

 

Loxahatchee — A two-day search for a 600-pound Bengal tiger named Bobo that had escaped from a five-acre compound ended Tuesday when a wildlife officer shot and killed the big cat as it lunged toward him.

 

Bobo, a 6-year-old declawed cat owned by former Tarzan actor Steve Sipek, escaped from his home on C Road in Loxahatchee Monday afternoon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“This has been a long 26 hours for all of us,” Maj. Brett Norton, regional commander for the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission said. “We made every attempt to try and capture Bobo.”

 

Norton said an officer saw the tiger along a fence about 5:30 p.m. and radioed for the dart team. As the unidentified officer waited for the team, Bobo turned around and faced him. With his ears down and teeth showing, the cat lunged. Fearing for his life, the officer fired his rifle and shot Bobo.

 

Sipek was distraught.

 

“I told them, `Please do not go out there without me,'” said a tearful Sipek, who was smeared with blood after cradling the body of his pet. “They promised.”

 

Sipek said he could have brought Bobo home if he was called. He said he got a call that Bobo was seen in a neighbor’s yard. As he approached, he heard five shots, he said.

 

“They murdered him. They murdered him. They murdered my Bobo,” he wailed.

 

Wildlife officials would not reveal how many times Bobo was shot or the name of the officer. A necropsy will be performed.

 

The reaction to Bobo’s death was swift and passionate from neighbors, big cat experts and animal lovers.

 

Friends and acquaintances who had known Bobo came from all over the county to comfort Sipek.

 

Roxanne Feola, who pulled onto the shoulder of Okeechobee Road as Sipek was addressing news crews, threw her arms around his chest and buried her head in his shoulder.

 

“Bobo was the last cub Steve bought and I raised him from a baby,” cried Feola, of Lake Worth , who helped Sipek care for his animals for 10 years. She remembered Bobo drinking from a baby bottle, the “sweetest tiger you ever could imagine.”

 

Cheryl Churchill, a friend of Sipek’s, hadn’t seen him in more than a year.

 

“I knew Bobo and he was not an aggressive animal,” she said. “I’ve petted him. I’ve given him water.”

 

About 40 friends and neighbors gathered at the corner of C Road and Okeechobee Boulevard at 8:30 p.m. for a candlelight vigil. Many in the community have pets such as peacocks, goats and even a camel. They’re united in their affection for these animals.

 

After hugging neighbors and well-wishers waiting for him on the road, Sipek trudged up the dirt drive, pressed open the gate and went to the first fenced area. Princess, a 15-year-old tiger who limps because of an early injury, ambled over to the gate and rubbed her head against the bars.

 

“Hello, baby, I’ve got something to tell you. They murdered Bobo,” sobbed Sipek, letting himself inside the tiger’s cage. Flies and bugs dotted his stained shirt and jeans.

 

Postal worker Jan Mahoney first noticed Bobo outside the compound around 2:30 p.m. Monday. He was lying behind a mound of freshly cut palm fronds and appeared harmless as he chewed on grass next to Sipek’s property.

 

“I was nervous, but I didn’t feel threatened,” Mahoney said. “He was close enough to touch.”

 

Throughout the day Tuesday, scouting teams combed the woods looking for Bobo. Officers were stationed at three vantage points: up high, in open spaces and along fence lines. The search involved rotating shifts of 12 to 15 state wildlife officers, four to six sheriff’s officials and Sipek. State wildlife’s Special Operations Group provided a five-man team, armed with 9mm pistols, 12-gauge shotguns and M-4 rifles. Three other state wildlife investigators were armed with 50-foot-range tranquilizer rifles, wildlife commission Lt. Charles Dennis said.

 

Officer Jorge Pino, a wildlife agency spokesman, said all options for capturing the animal were considered. The notion that the wildlife officers aren’t trained to catch large animals is a common misconception, he said.

 

“The investigators are certified to do exactly what they did,” Pino said. “I’m talking about investigators who have 20-plus years doing just this.”

 

Part of that training means using lethal force only as a last resort, Norton said.

 

“Our officers were made very clear on the rules of engagement,” he said. “They were not to take direct shots unless their lives were in imminent danger.”

 

Officers initially set up to contain Bobo so that he would go back home on his own, said Dennis, lead investigator for the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission. “He’s more than likely trying to get back home,” he said at 2 p.m. Tuesday. “We’re trying to assist him.”

 

Sipek could be billed for the as-yet undetermined cost of the search if he is found to be negligent, though no decision has been made, said wildlife commission spokesman Willie Puz.

 

Officers were within seven feet of catching Bobo late Monday afternoon before a news helicopter hovering above scared Bobo away, wildlife officials said.

 

Sipek holds one of about 10 licenses in the state allowing him to keep exotic animals as pets, said Henry Cabbage, a wildlife commission spokesman in Tallahassee . Sipek has four other large cats on his property. Sipek has an excellent record, with only one violation in 1993 for not renewing his license, which he corrected, Cabbage said. He hasn’t had any violations since.

 

After an investigation about two years ago into an incident in which Bobo pounced on and hurt Sipek’s friend, Carol Pistilli, state wildlife officials found no evidence of negligence by Sipek, wildlife officials said. Sipek renewed the license this year.

 

Some experts warn of more exotic animals meeting the same fate as Bobo.

 

“There is an epidemic of people keeping big cats as pets and that problem needs to be addressed in a fundamental way,” said Wayne Pacelle, chief executive officer of the Humane Society of the United States . “These animals belong in their native habitats in Asia or Africa and they should not be languishing in cages in people’s back yards or basements.”

 

Still, he didn’t think the animal should’ve been killed.

 

“You would think that the animal could have been tranquilized,” Pacelle said. “But the blame really rests with people who somehow think that they can safely keep one of the largest and most lethal predators in the world as a pet.”

 

Judy Berens, who owns Panther Ridge Sanctuary, has 16 large cats, including a tiger, seven cougars, leopards and others. She was saddened by the news of Bobo’s shooting. But she said she couldn’t blame wildlife officials for what happened.

 

“I can’t criticize the police for this,” Berens said. “They don’t deal with this on a regular basis.”

 

Staff Writers Diane C. Lade and Sam Tranum and Staff Researcher Barbara Hijek contributed to this report.

 

Luis F. Perez can be reached at lfperez@sun-sentinel.com or 561-243-6641.      Email story

Print story

VIDEO

 

 

 

WB39 report: Tarzan’s tiger killed

Jul 13, 2004

 

PHOTO

 

 

 

Inconsolable after his tiger’s death

See larger image

(Sun-Sentinel/Jim Rassol)

Jul 14, 2004

 

VIDEO

 

 

 

VIDEO: Animal control officers kill former Tarzan actor’s 600-pound pet tiger (WPTV5)

Jul 13, 2004

 

AUDIO

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission spokesman Willie Puz on the escaped tiger (Sun-Sentinel multimedia producer Doug Phillps)

Jul 13, 2004

 

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission spokesman George Pino on the tiger (Courtesy of WPTV)

 

PHOTO

 

 

 

Escaped tiger and owner

See larger image

(Sun-Sentinel/Scott Fisher)

 

 

 

 

Escaped tiger Bobo

See larger image

(Sun-Sentinel/Scott Fisher)

 

 

 

 

 

Copyright © 2004, South Florida Sun-Sentinel

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sfl-ptiger14jul14,0,6817255.story?coll=sfla-home-headlines

 

 

Tarzan’s Tiger Shot to Death After Florida Escape

Tue Jul 13, 2004 11:46 PM ET

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MIAMI (Reuters) – Wildlife officers shot and killed a 600-pound tiger called Bobo on Tuesday after it escaped from the Florida home of a B-movie actor who played Tarzan.

Officers hunted the fugitive cat for more than 24 hours in thick scrub around Loxahatchee, 50 miles north of Miami . They spotted it on Tuesday afternoon and hoped to use a tranquilizer dart to recapture it, but the animal lunged at them and was fatally shot, officials said.

 

“The tiger attacked one of our officers. Our officers unfortunately had no choice but to use lethal fire and shot the tiger,” wildlife official Jorge Pino told reporters. “We’re very, very sad to report the tiger is deceased.”

 

But the owner of the 6-year-old male tiger, Steve Sipek, accused the wildlife officers of acting too quickly. He said they should have waited for an officer with a tranquilizer gun who might have saved the animal.

 

“They murdered him,” a teary Sipek said, his clothing soaked in the cat’s blood.

 

“I was around the corner. I heard the shots, five shots, one, two, three, four, five. I knew he was dead,” he said. “They didn’t wait for nobody. They just shot him cold.”

 

A small group of angry animal lovers and Sipek’s neighbors gathered at the scene in protest. Some wept and one held a sign reading “Bobo deserved better than heartless assassination.”

 

The big cat, which Sipek raised since it was a cub, was declawed but not defanged. It was not necessarily considered a threat to local residents, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission spokesman Willie Puz said before the animal was killed.

 

“From what I’m told, it’s the first time it’s been away from home so it’s checking to see if it’s greener on the other side of the fence, I don’t know,” Puz said.

 

Sipek, who played Tarzan in two movies in 1969 and 1972 under the screen name Steve Hawkes, looks after mistreated big cats and has another tiger, two lions, a black leopard and a cougar. Local newspapers said the cats roamed freely around his home.

 

Sipek had long had a permit to keep exotic wildlife as pets, said Puz.

 

The tiger’s escape made some residents of Sipek’s neighborhood uneasy. Police offered to escort them to and from their houses.

 

Sipek said he would bury the cat on his property.

 

“My heart is ripped out because there is no reason for this thing to happen, none whatsoever,” Sipek said.

 

© Reuters 2004. All Rights Reserved.  http://www.reuters.com/newsArticle.jhtml?type=topNews&storyID=5662733

 

 

Steve Sipek, an actor who once played Tarzan, said the gates would have had to be opened before the 6-year-old tiger, named Bobo, could have reached the 12-foot wall surrounding his property. He did not say who might have done it.
”He was let out by somebody who is interested in causing problems,” Sipek told CBS’ ”The Early Show.” Sipek has another tiger, a panther, a cougar and lions on his five-acre compound, which is marked by a sign that reads, ”Trespassers will be eaten.” They did not escape.
Willie Puz, a spokesman for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, said Wednesday that Sipek’s claim was being investigated. He said Sipek has licenses for the big cats, but said he could not comment on whether they could now be revoked because that is part of the investigation.
Bobo was shot and killed Tuesday when officials say it lunged at a wildlife officer who was trying to capture it.
But Sipek, who developed a soft spot for jungle beasts after playing Tarzan in B-movies decades ago, said he doubted the tiger had to be killed. He said he would have been able to coax the tiger to safety if officers had called him to the scene before shooting it.
”Murder is the word,” Sipek said. ”They murdered a poor helpless animal that only looked ferocious, as any tiger would, but Bobo had a heart of gold.”
A dozen wildlife trackers and sheriff’s deputies had searched more than 24 hours for the animal, which escaped Monday. They had kept watch Tuesday in a five-acre area of dense slash pines and palm trees, hoping to catch it.
Officers approached the tiger intending to shoot it with tranquilizers. But the tiger jumped at one officer, who fired a shotgun in self-defense, said Jorge Pino, a wildlife commission spokesman.
”Needless to say, the owner is very distraught. We’re distraught,” Pino said. ”Our concern was to recover this tiger alive and well.”
Sipek says he developed his affection for big cats after one pulled him from a fire on a set more than 30 years ago, saving his life, and he promised then he would always take care of such animals if he recovered.
He told ABC’s ”Good Morning America” on Wednesday that wildlife officials had told him they wouldn’t try to capture Bobo until later Tuesday evening, so he went to take a shower. He said he was coming back to rejoin the search when he heard five shots and ”my heart sank,” knowing he hadn’t protected Bobo.
”I kept my word, except I failed yesterday, trusting people,” he said. He said wildlife officials were laughing after the shooting.
”It was a glorified thing for them,” he said.
Puz denied the officers were laughing, saying Sipek was too far away to see the officers’ demeanor, which he described as ”somber.”
Some nearby residents, who moved to the rural area so they could have room for their own pets, had little sympathy for Sipek, saying his big cats are dangerous.
”What I want to know is when he was in captivity, how long did he go without a feeding?” said Kim Smith, who has horses and dogs that she normally keeps outside.
”Tigers are predatorial. All of us moved out here because we’re city people wanting a taste of the country. But this is a little funky.”
Wildlife officials had said they did not believe the declawed pet would attack. He was never taught to hunt, and had never killed anything or lived in the wild. However, he did bite a woman working inside his cage two years ago, severely injuring her.
An expert on tiger behavior disagreed that Bobo had posed no danger.
”Tigers are wild animals and they retain hard-wired instincts and to say just because a tiger doesn’t have his claws – so what? He still has his teeth and they’re powerful,” said Ron Tilson, conservation director at the Minnesota Zoo.
Sipek’s compound sits about 10 miles from West Palm Beach , just off a main east-west thoroughfare.
”He never should have had these animals in the first place,” said Andrea Newell, who grew up two doors away and was visiting family on Tuesday.
In 1985, a tame, three-legged black leopard belonging to Sipek eluded searchers for nearly three days before being found wandering near a fence on his property.

http://famulus.msnbc.com/famulusgen/ap07-14-

062624.asp?t=apnew&vts=71420040642#body

 

From National Geographic:

Two wildlife officers approached the escaped 600-pound (270-kilogram) Bengal-Siberian mixed tiger named Bobo. They had planned to shoot him with a tranquilizer and capture the animal alive, but the tiger’s aggressive display prompted the lethal shot.

 

Bobo, a six-year-old, was owned by Steve Sipek, an actor who starred as the King of the Jungle in two movies in 1970 and 1972 under the screen name Steve Hawkes, according to the Internet Movie Database.

 

On the Lam

 

The tiger went on the lam Monday afternoon. Although Bobo stayed within 200 yards (180 meters) of home, he managed to elude a dozen wildlife trackers and sheriff’s deputies for more than 24 hours.

 

According to press reports, thick scrub of palmettos, slash pine, and palm trees surrounding Sipek’s five-acre (two-hectare) compound about 50 miles (80 kilometers) north of Miami made searching for the tiger difficult.

 

Trackers maintained a perimeter around the area and cautioned drivers about the escaped tiger. Residents were offered escorts to their homes and asked to call 911 if they spotted Bobo.

 

Sipek, his shirt soaked in blood from hugging the dead tiger, told reporters gathered at the scene that he doubted Bobo had to be killed, that he was shot so that the wildlife officers would be recognized as heroes for saving the people from the “vicious tiger.”

 

“Murder is the word,” he said. “They murdered a poor, helpless animal that only looked ferocious, as any tiger would. But Bobo had a heart of gold.”

 

Bobo was de-clawed, but still had his fangs. Wildlife officials said that the tiger bit and injured a woman who was working at Sipek’s home two years ago. Sipek said that Bobo did not intentionally hurt the woman.

 

The ex-Tarzan actor has a soft spot for mistreated big cats and has long held a permit to keep exotic animals at his home. In addition to the late Bobo, Sipek’s pets include another tiger, a panther, a cougar, and a pair of lions.

 

Escapees

 

The San Francisco, California-based Captive Wild Animal Protection Coalition issued a press release Tuesday cautioning that “Bobo’s escape is the tip of the iceberg-the rate of animal escapees, human and animal injury and death from privately owned big cats is increasing.”

 

According to the coalition, big cat incidents since April 2003 include four human fatalities, 18 human injuries, 124 animal fatalities, 28 animal escapes, and 222 confiscations.

 

On March 18, Jabari, a 340-pound (153-kilogram) gorilla made headlines when he apparently leapt across a 12-foot (3.5-meter) wide moat and wall at the Dallas Zoo in Texas and went on a 40-minute rampage in which he injured one adult and two children before being shot to death.

 

Bobo’s Monday escape and Tuesday shooting are under investigation, officials said.

 

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2004/

07/0714_040714_tarzantiger.html#main

 

Posted on Wed, Jul. 14, 2004

 

 

 

I M A G E S   A N D   R E L A T E D   C O N T E N T

 

 

THE END OF BOBO: On Tuesday, ‘the tiger turned . . . and lunged at the first officer with mouth open and ears laid back,’ a news release said. AP FILE

 

 

R E L A T E D    L I N K S

.  Web Vote | Do you think wildlife officers were right to shoot and kill Bobo?

 

 

 

LOXAHATCHEE

 

 

Escaped tiger is shot to death

 

BY JONATHAN ABEL

 

jabel@herald.com

 

 

LOXAHATCHEE – In a tale with many only-in-South-Florida twists, a 600-pound tiger named Bobo was shot dead Tuesday, a day after it had escaped from the Loxahatchee-area home of a man who used to portray Tarzan in the movies.

 

The shooting followed a 24-hour game of hide-and-seek, during which Bobo was spotted in various locales, pursued through slash pines and palmetto scrub by wildlife officers bearing tranquilizer guns, with the former Tarzan in tow. At one point Monday night, they seemingly had the big cat cornered, only to see him spooked by the whirring of TV helicopters above.

 

To ensure there would be no more of that, police imposed a no-fly zone.

 

Authorities patrolled the area in gray pickups to keep rubberneckers and news trucks out and — they hoped, anyway — the tiger in.

 

On Tuesday, they caught up with Bobo again, in somebody’s backyard. ”The tiger turned, took an aggressive posture, and lunged at the first officer with mouth open and ears laid back,” said a news release from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. It was the end for Bobo.

 

Though declawed and domesticed, Bobo could have inflicted serious harm with his powerful jaws, wildlife experts say.

 

”Needless to say, the owner is very distraught. We’re distraught,” said Jorge Pino, a spokesman for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. “Our concern was to recover this tiger alive and well.”

 

DISTRAUGHT

 

Sipek was indeed distraught.

 

”Murder is the word,” said Sipek, adding that the animal had been shot multiple times. “They murdered a poor helpless animal that only looked ferocious, as any tiger would, but Bobo had a heart of gold.”

 

It happened in a rural part Loxahatchee, 12 miles west of West Palm Beach . It’s a live-and-let-live area characterized by homes on five-acre lots, horse farms, plant nurseries and a nudist camp.

 

Steve Sipek (screen name Steve Hawkes), Bobo’s owner, is far from the most famous cinematic Tarzan. That would be Johnny Weissmuller. But Sipek portrayed the vine-swinging icon for a brief period in the early 1970s, in films such as Tarzan and the Rainbow (1974). Although it has been three decades, he retains a love of jungle animals — and a menagerie of two lions, a black leopard, a jaguar and, until Monday, Bobo.

 

ESCAPED CAGE

 

The cat somehow escaped his cage around 3 p.m. and scaled over a 12-foot wall. At one point he briefly alighted atop a sheriff’s deputy’s cruiser.

 

Authorities had hoped to get Bobo back to Sipek’s home, which is marked by a sign that reads, “Trespassers will be eaten.”

 

Most neighbors took the safari in stride.

 

News of the wayward tiger didn’t deter Tim Tidwell, 16, from returning to the home of his aunt Dawn Miele Monday night on his tractor.

 

”We didn’t know if it would jump out so we floored it here on the John Deere and were freaking out,” Tidwell said.

 

Added Elaine Nebeniouquit, who has lived in the area for 23 years: “Last time he got loose, there was not this big thing. It’s the new people out here that don’t like it. They’re making it a city.”

 

Actually it was another cat that escaped in 1995.

 

Samantha Goll, who owns a ranch with 54 breeding ace horses, spent Monday night patrolling the perimeter of her property armed only with her cellphone.

 

”We were worried but not panicked,” said her daughter Amanda. “I was more worried for the horses.”

 

Authorities warned neighbors against trying to catch the tiger, instead urging them to call 911 or contact the wildlife authorities.

 

‘There aren’t tigers roaming wild in Florida so you can’t say `this is what you’re supposed to do’ ,” said Willie Puz, a spokesman for the Wildlife Conservation Commission. “The tiger is a wild animal and we’ve all seen that no matter how pet friendly, we’ve seen instances where that animal acts on its natural instincts.”

 

When it was all over, neighbors were generally sad that the tiger had been shot, and few seemed to blame Sipek over the ordeal.

 

”You can’t be mad at the guy,” Miele said. “It’s just an accident.”

 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

http://www.miami.com/mld/miamiherald/9147928.htm?

ERIGHTS=4174634899216666815miami::

makeadifference@verizon.net&KRD_RM=

6prvsssurmvtupummmmmmmmmmo|Carole|N&is_rd=Y

 

 

Loose Tiger in Florida Is Tip of the Iceberg

7/13/2004 5:07:00 PM

Contact: Kim K. Haddad of the Captive Wild Animal Protection Coalition, 650-619-0628 (cell), Web: http://www.cwapc.org

SAN FRANCISCO, July 13 /U.S. Newswire/ — The Captive Wild Animal Protection Coalition (CWAPC) warns that “Bobo’s” escape is the tip of the iceberg — the rate of animal escapes, human and animal injury and death from privately owned big cats is increasing.

This is the third reported incident for Steve Sipek, owner of the escaped tiger. CWAPC is asking Florida wildlife and USDA officials to revoke Sipek’s USDA permit. He must conform to current laws prohibiting private ownership of wild animals as pets and place his animals in facilities where they can be safely and properly cared for.

“This is yet another example of the need for stronger laws and better enforcement,” says Kim Haddad, DVM manager of CWAPC. “These cats are Sipek’s personal pets. He clearly does not merit a USDA permit: he owns six dangerous wild predators as pets.”

According to Carole Lewis, president of the Association of Sanctuaries and Founder of Big Cat Rescue in Tampa , “Sipek does not meet the requirements for a sanctuary, and there’s no conservation value to what he does.”

Florida is considered one of the strictest states for exotic pet ownership, and yet Sipek is one of many flaunting the 1999 law prohibiting private ownership of wild animals.

Since April 2003, big cat incidents include, 4 human fatalities, 18 human injuries, 124 animal fatalities, 28 animal escapes, 222 confiscations.

According to Pat Derby, founder and president of the Performing Animal Welfare Society, “This is a totally predictable situation. Just like John Weinhart in CaliforniaPAWS will be caring for 39 of his tigers-we will continue to see these trainers with backyard pets create a danger to the public, and keep animals in conditions that are unsafe and acceptable.”

CWAPC represents 20 leading animal protection organizations, zoos and sanctuaries. CWAPC believes keeping wild animals as pets is dangerous for people and inhumane for animals.

COALITION PARTICIPANTS: Animal Protection Institute; African Elephant Conservation Trust; American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals; Born Free Foundation; Detroit Zoological Institute; Folsom Zoo/Sanctuary; Fund for Animals; Houston SPCA; Humane Society of the United States; International Fund for Animal Welfare; Kimya Institute; Marin Humane Society; Oakland Zoo; Performing Animal Welfare Society; People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals; The Association of Sanctuaries, Inc; Skip Trimble; The Science & Conservation Center; The Summerlee Foundation

http://www.usnewswire.com/

-0-

/© 2004 U.S. Newswire 202-347-2770/

 

 

 

Pet tiger escapes from one-time Tarzan’s home in Loxahatchee

 

 

By Akilah Johnson

 

Posted July 13 2004

 

Loxahatchee · A 600-pound tiger named Bobo kept authorities at bay into the night after escaping from the five-acre compound where a former B-movie actor who played Tarzan cares for exotic animals.

 

About 3 p.m. , Bobo jumped the 12-foot fence surrounding Steve Sipek’s property in the 3300 block of C Road . The cat took a romp around the neighborhood — taking a dip in a canal and lunging at a Palm Beach County Sheriff’s deputy’s jeep — before taking cover.

 

 

As of 11:30 p.m. , Bobo was still crouching in the woods about 200 yards from his home, where he pounced on a woman two years ago. Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission officers and sheriff’s deputies pulled back for the night about 10 p.m.

 

 

Since the original plan of shooting Bobo with a tranquilizer dart didn’t work, a wildlife commission special operations team set up a perimeter along C, D, and North roads and Okeechobee Boulevard to monitor Bobo’s movements.

 

 

A new team will relieve them this morning if he is not captured overnight, Willie Puz, commission spokesman said.

 

 

“We want the tiger to relax for the evening,” Puz said. “We’re hoping he relaxes … maybe falls asleep or goes home.”

 

 

No one was evacuated. Instead, residents were escorted to and from their homes.

 

 

Officers were unable to tranquilize Bobo because officers could not get close enough for a clear shot. The problem: The 6-year-old Bengal tiger was about 400 yards deep inside a heavily wooded area. As officers approached, he would crouch down, disappearing behind thick foliage.

 

 

“Tigers are made to run through brush, people aren’t,” Puz said.

 

 

News of Bobo’s escape spread throughout the Loxahatchee Groves community. Some people hopped in their golf carts and came to watch the hoopla. Some came to see if they could help lure Bobo out of hiding.

 

 

Linda Meredith packed a live pink Yorkshire pig in the trunk of her Cadillac and drove to the corner of C Road and Okeechobee when she heard Bobo was loose. Her thought: use baby back ribs as bait.

 

 

“He has all these humans screaming at him, but he doesn’t want that. He wants dinner and that’s a pig squealing,” said Meredith, dressed in a tiger print dress with a gold lion medallion around her neck.

 

 

According to residents, Sipek, known around the neighborhood as the Tarzan guy, is one of many exotic animal owners in the area. Some people said they would sleep easier Monday night if Bobo slept at home. Others were resigned to the fact that Bobo was on the loose.

 

 

“Things just happen,” Chris Abbey said. “It’s like your dog getting out of the house; just like anybody’s pet getting out.”

 

 

Sipek has taken in about 50 animals over 32 years. He has five cats and lets them roam around his home, even as he sleeps, said Lee Ann Lewis, who used to live with Sipek.

 

 

Carrying a photo album of Bobo and wearing his baby tooth on a chain around her neck, Lewis said the tiger used to suck on her right thumb as a cub.

 

 

Sipek is permitted to keep Bobo and four other large cats, but it was not clear if Monday’s disappearing act would jeopardize his ability to keep the animals.

 

 

It was not the first time Bobo or another of Sipek’s cats has made headlines.

 

 

About two years ago, Bobo pounced on Carol Pistilli, who was painting Sipek’s house. She had just fed Bobo some steaks and thought he was outside when she walked into the caged area to finish working.

 

 

She suffered puncture wounds to her head, but her injuries were not life-threatening.

 

 

In 1985, Sipek, who played Tarzan in two movies in 1969 and 1970, hunted for his lost three-legged panther for almost 36 hours before the cat wandered back home.

 

 

Residents said when the cats got out in the past, there was more of a grassroots effort to find them.

 

 

“It was pretty hush-hush,” John Magierdoski said. “Neighbors just started calling neighbors to get the kids in” the house.

 

 

Akilah Johnson can be reached at akjohnson@sun-sentinel.com or 561-243-6645. Email story

 

 

Copyright © 2004, South Florida Sun-Sentinel

 

 

http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/local/palmbeach/sfl-ptigercrouch13jul13,0,6401075.story?coll=sfla-news-palm

 

 

Link to Send A Letter To the Editor http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/opinion/sfl-letterseditor.customform

 

 

 

Search Continues For Escaped Tiger Near West Palm Beach

 

POSTED: 7:31 am EDT July 13, 2004

UPDATED: 1:01 pm EDT July 13, 2004

 

LOXAHATCHEE, Fla. — Searchers continued Tuesday to look for Tarzan’s tiger.

Video

 

The tiger, named BoBo, was reported missing Monday afternoon from the home of Steve Sipek, who played Tarzan under the screen name Steve Hawkes in movies made in the late 1960s. Sipek’s residence is near a wilderness area about 15 miles west of West Palm Beach .

 

Deputies and state game officials set up a perimeter around their search area and planned to literally start beating the bush Tuesday morning.

 

The search area is about a half-mile wide and 2½ miles long, said Willie Puz, spokesman for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

 

Searchers used an infrared-equipped helicopter during the night, hoping to spot the big cat so it could be stopped with tranquilizer darts. When the first deputies arrived at the scene Monday, the big cat jumped on top of their car. Searchers on the ground spotted the cat several times into the evening, but were never close enough to shoot tranquilizers at it.

 

 

A tiger escapes from the South Florida home of an actor who once played Tarzan. More Images

 

People nearby are being asked to remain indoors for their safety and the safety of the cat.

 

“There’s no such thing as a tame wild animal,” Putz said.Slideshow: Tiger Images

 

 

But some residents have had other ideas. One woman brought a pig in the trunk of a Cadillac as bait for BoBo.

 

Experts believe BoBo may end up finding his way back to Sipek’s sanctuary by himself.

 

“It could just go back home on its own, and we’re hoping for that,” Puz said. “It could just lay down and go to sleep.”

 

BoBo has been declawed. Leeann Lewis lived at Sipek’s sanctuary and helped raise BoBo.

 

“I’m pretty sure he’s just scared. He wouldn’t do anything to hurt anybody,” she said.

 

But officials don’t want to take any chances. BoBo attacked a woman who got too close to his cage in February 2002.

 

The big cat pounced on Carol Pistilli, who was painting cages. The tiger latched on to Pistilli’s head for several seconds, leaving her with puncture wounds on her head, neck, and shoulders.

 

Pistilli survived, but had to have several surgeries.

 

At the time of the attack, Sipek called it an “unfortunate accident,” saying Pistilli unknowingly opened the door to BoBo’s area and stood where the animal usually eats.

http://www.thebostonchannel.com/news/3523491/detail.html

 

 

Search Continues For Escaped Tiger Near West Palm Beach

 

POSTED: 7:31 am EDT July 13, 2004

UPDATED: 1:01 pm EDT July 13, 2004

 

LOXAHATCHEE, Fla. — Searchers continued Tuesday to look for Tarzan’s tiger.

Video

 

The tiger, named BoBo, was reported missing Monday afternoon from the home of Steve Sipek, who played Tarzan under the screen name Steve Hawkes in movies made in the late 1960s. Sipek’s residence is near a wilderness area about 15 miles west of West Palm Beach .

 

Deputies and state game officials set up a perimeter around their search area and planned to literally start beating the bush Tuesday morning.

 

The search area is about a half-mile wide and 2½ miles long, said Willie Puz, spokesman for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

 

Searchers used an infrared-equipped helicopter during the night, hoping to spot the big cat so it could be stopped with tranquilizer darts. When the first deputies arrived at the scene Monday, the big cat jumped on top of their car. Searchers on the ground spotted the cat several times into the evening, but were never close enough to shoot tranquilizers at it.

 

 

A tiger escapes from the South Florida home of an actor who once played Tarzan. More Images

 

People nearby are being asked to remain indoors for their safety and the safety of the cat.

 

“There’s no such thing as a tame wild animal,” Putz said.Slideshow: Tiger Images

 

 

But some residents have had other ideas. One woman brought a pig in the trunk of a Cadillac as bait for BoBo.

 

Experts believe BoBo may end up finding his way back to Sipek’s sanctuary by himself.

 

“It could just go back home on its own, and we’re hoping for that,” Puz said. “It could just lay down and go to sleep.”

 

BoBo has been declawed. Leeann Lewis lived at Sipek’s sanctuary and helped raise BoBo.

 

“I’m pretty sure he’s just scared. He wouldn’t do anything to hurt anybody,” she said.

 

But officials don’t want to take any chances. BoBo attacked a woman who got too close to his cage in February 2002.

 

The big cat pounced on Carol Pistilli, who was painting cages. The tiger latched on to Pistilli’s head for several seconds, leaving her with puncture wounds on her head, neck, and shoulders.

 

Pistilli survived, but had to have several surgeries.

 

At the time of the attack, Sipek called it an “unfortunate accident,” saying Pistilli unknowingly opened the door to BoBo’s area and stood where the animal usually eats.

http://www.thebostonchannel.com/news/3523491/detail.html

Tarzan’s escaped tiger killed
From correspondents in Loxahatchee , Florida
July 14, 2004

A TIGER that escaped from the home of a movie actor who once played Tarzan was shot and killed today after it lunged at a Florida wildlife officer who was trying to capture it.

At least two rangers approached the tiger, and one was going to try to shoot it with a tranquiliser gun. But the tiger lunged at one officer, who had to shoot in self-defence, said Jorge Pino, a spokesman with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

“Needless to say, the owner is very distraught. We’re distraught,” Mr Pino said.

“Our concern was to recover this tiger alive and well.”

A dozen wildlife trackers and sheriff’s deputies had searched for more than 24 hours for the tiger, which escaped yesterday.

They had kept watch today around a two hectare area, hoping to catch sight of the 270kg tiger named Bobo who escaped from a nearby home.

But Bobo eluded authorities and his owner, Steve Sipek, who developed a soft spot for jungle beasts after playing Tarzan in B-movies decades ago. Besides the six-year-old Bobo, Sipek has another tiger, a panther, a cougar and lions on his two-hectare compound.

Authorities had hoped to get Bobo back to his home, which is marked by a sign that reads, “Trespassers will be eaten”.

The hunt, under temperatures in the high 30s Celsius, was made difficult because searchers couldn’t spread out into an inhospitable area covered in scrubby palmettos, slash pine and palm trees because they didn’t want to scare the tiger off.

But that offered little consolation to nearby residents, many of whom moved to the rural area so they could have room for their own pets to move about.

“What I want to know is when he was in captivity, how long did he go without a feeding?” Kim Smith, who lives on the edge of the search area on a similar lot, asked shortly before the shooting.

She has seven horses, a mini donkey, a mini horse and two great Danes that she normally keeps outside.

“Tigers are predatorial. All of us moved out here because we’re city people wanting a taste of the country. But this is a little funky,” said Smith, who lives with her husband and their six preteen and teenage children.

During the search, neighbours could not reach their homes without passing a roadblock set up by sheriff’s deputies. Everyone was offered a uniformed escort, but nearly all declined.

Wildlife officials had said they did not believe the declawed pet would attack. He’s never been taught to hunt, killed anything or lived in the wild, though he did bite and severely injure a woman working inside his cage two years ago.

But an expert on tiger behaviour disagreed that Bobo had posed no danger, calling that notion “utter nonsense”.

“Tigers are wild animals and they retain hard-wired instincts, and to say just because a tiger doesn’t have his claws – So what? He still has his teeth and they’re powerful,” said Ron Tilson, conservation director at the Minnesota Zoo.

Sipek, clearly distraught over the escape, had told officials that he believed once they found Bobo, he could talk him into coming home.

“This guy’s usually very responsible with his animals,” said Cindy Corum, who has lived nearby for two years.

Still, in an area fast becoming part of the booming South Florida suburbs and only five km from a public primary school, some people think the tiger should have had a new home.

Sipek’s compound is about 16km from West Palm Beach , just off a main east-west thoroughfare.

“He never should have had these animals in the first place,” said Andrea Newell, who grew up two doors away and was visiting her sister and mother in her childhood home.

http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/common/story_

page/0,5744,10134122%255E1702,00.html

 

Tarzan’s escaped tiger killed in Palm Beach County
JILL BARTON

Associated Press

LOXAHATCHEE, Fla. – A tiger that escaped from the home of a movie actor who once played Tarzan was shot and killed Tuesday when it lunged at a wildlife officer who was trying to capture it.

At least two officers approached the tiger, and one was going to try to shoot it with a tranquilizer gun. But the tiger jumped at one officer, who had to shoot it with a shotgun in self defense, said Jorge Pino, a spokesman with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

“Needless to say, the owner is very distraught. We’re distraught,” Pino said. “Our concern was to recover this tiger alive and well.”

A dozen wildlife trackers and sheriff’s deputies had searched more than 24 hours for the tiger, which escaped Monday. They had kept watch Tuesday around a five-acre perimeter, hoping to dart the 600-pound Siberian-Bengal mix.

But Bobo eluded authorities and his owner, Steve Sipek, who developed a soft spot for jungle beasts after playing Tarzan in B-movies decades ago. Besides the 6-year-old Bobo, Sipek has another tiger, a panther, a cougar and lions on his five-acre compound.

“He thinks these are his kids, so he’s very upset,” Pino said. Sipek couldn’t immediately be reached for comment as police kept neighborhood roads blocked off well after the shooting.

The shooting and the tiger’s escape were under investigation, officials said.

Authorities had hoped to get Bobo back to Sipek’s home, which is marked by a sign that reads, “Trespassers will be eaten.”

The hunt, under temperatures in the high 90s, was made difficult because searchers couldn’t spread out into an inhospitable area covered in palmetto scrub, slash pine and palm trees, in large part because they didn’t want to scare the tiger off.

But that offered little consolation to nearby residents, many of whom moved to the rural area so they could have room for their own animals to move about.

Jennifer Swanson, who lives on 17 acres down the street with 10 foals and eight horses said she spent a sleepless night Monday keeping watch over her animals. But she, too, was upset by the outcome.

“I feel bad. We’re all animal lovers out here,” said Swanson. “We’re relieved – I know we can sleep tonight. But this is really a horrible ending.”

During the search, neighbors could not reach their homes without passing a roadblock set up by sheriff’s deputies. Everyone was offered a uniformed escort, but nearly all declined.

Wildlife officials had said they did not believe the declawed pet would attack. He’s never been taught to hunt, killed anything, or lived in the wild, though he did bite and severely injure a woman working inside his cage two years ago.

But an expert on tiger behavior disagreed that Bobo had posed no danger, calling that notion “utter nonsense.”

“Tigers are wild animals and they retain hard-wired instincts and to say just because a tiger doesn’t have his claws – So what? He still has his teeth and they’re powerful,” said Ron Tilson, conservation director at the Minnesota Zoo.

Sipek, clearly distraught over the escape, had told officials that he believed once they find Bobo, he could talk him into coming home.

“This guy’s usually very responsible with his animals,” said Cindy Corum, who has lived nearby for two years.

Still, in a neighborhood that’s fast becoming part of the booming South Florida suburbs and only three miles from a public elementary school, some people think the tiger should find a new home.

Sipek’s five-acre compound sits about 10 miles from West Palm Beach , just off a main east-west thoroughfare.

“He never should have had these animals in the first place,” said Andrea Newell, who grew up two doors away and was visiting her sister and mother in her childhood home on Tuesday.

 

Loxahatchee Tiger Mauls Woman

 

LOCAL PET TIGER FRACTURES WOMAN’S HEAD

BY: William Cooper Jr. and Sanjay Bhatt, Palm Beach Post Staff Writers

LOXAHATCHEE – Carol Pistilli had been in Bobo the tiger’s cage before . . . when it was empty.

And that’s what the 58-year-old Boynton Beach woman thought it was when she entered to do some touch-up painting Saturday at an exotic cat compound owned by a man who played Tarzan in the movies from 1968 to 1970.

But it wasn’t empty. And when the 750-pound Siberian-Bengal mix saw Pistilli, he pounced on her and bit her in the head, fracturing the back of her skull. Her screaming still shook Michael Pistilli as he sat waiting for word of his wife’s condition at St. Mary’s Medical Center two hours later. Even as she lay on the cage floor, she had been terribly aware she had been mauled, he said.

“She said, ‘We’ve got to stop the bleeding or else I’m not going to make it,'” Pistilli, 61, recalled.

The Boynton Beach couple had been helping Steve Sipek prepare for a photo shoot at his Loxahatchee compound Saturday afternoon, Pistilli said. They had met him two months ago through a mutual friend who was in their bowling club. Sipek said he needed help with painting because he had broken his hand.

Sipek, who portrayed Tarzan under the screen name Steve Hawkes, keeps six exotic cats at his 5-acre compound on C Road, north of Okeechobee Boulevard : two tigers, two lions, a black leopard and a cougar. The cats, mostly castoffs from zoos, are in a mazelike series of interlocking cages, he said. The property is surrounded by a 12-foot fence, with concrete lions atop 15-foot pillars guarding the gate.

Pistilli thought Bobo was feeding on some steaks elsewhere in the compound about 3:30 p.m. when she entered an area where she had done painting last week, Sipek said.

When Michael Pistilli and Sipek heard her screams, they ran to the area, where the cat was still mauling her.

Sipek, 60, ordered Bobo down, and the 4-year-old tiger moved away, both men said.

The tiger’s jaws had caused the damage; Sipek had had the tiger declawed, said Michael Pistilli, 60.

The men carried the woman out of the cage and waited for the ambulance to arrive. Trauma Hawk, the air ambulance operated by the Palm Beach County Health Care District, took her to St. Mary’s about 5 p.m.

A distraught Sipek said he typically never allows anyone in the feeding area. However, because Pistilli had been there a week ago, Sipek thought she had remembered his warnings not to go into the area alone.

“That’s why I dropped my guard,” said Sipek, who has housed exotic animals on the property for 32 years and often allows the animals to roam free, even sometimes to sleep with him. “She had been feeding him earlier.”

Michael Pistilli said doctors told him his wife had a laceration on the right side of her head and a skull fracture at the back of her head where the tiger bit her. She was in critical condition late Saturday in the intensive care unit.

The attack is being investigated by the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Lt. John Reed of the wildlife commission said agency officials are familiar with Sipek and his big cats. He abides by state laws regarding caging such animals and has the licenses to keep them, he said.

“He takes good care of his animals,” Reed said.

Sipek said his love for the big wildcats came from a life-changing incident. The Croatian-born actor was filming in the Ocala National Forest in 1970 when a stunt went awry, sending the entire set up in flames.

The crew fled the fire, leaving Sipek to fend for himself. But a lion dragged the actor from the blaze, he said.

A few cats have escaped Sipek’s property. In 1985, a three-legged panther was lured home with a chicken neck after escaping for about three days when someone cut Sipek’s fence.

And nine years ago, a cougar worked his way through the fence that separates his property from Carrie Correll’s, and began mauling her dog, Correll said.

“The cougar had her head in its mouth,” said Correll, a neighbor since 1979.

The dog lived, and they haven’t had any more incidents. That’s why she expressed surprise at news that a visitor to Sipek’s had been mauled.

“I stay in my yard and Steve stays in his yard,” Correll said. “I feel secure.”

 

Steve Sipek’s dream of playing Tarzan on the big screen came true. He has been living with animals like tigers,lions, and other big cats for about 40 years and gives his lifelong passion for big cats.

 

Sipek is so confident of his abilities that he raised his only child in a house full of grown lions and tigers which often slumber in his son’s bed. Sipek said that the animals’killer instinct will be pushed away if you show your love to them.

 

Unluckily, eleven years ago Steve Sipek was making a performance with a captive lion when it attacked, thus breaking his ribs.

 

Steve Sipek and a big cat named Bobo

Steve Sipek and a big cat named Bobo

 

Steve Sipek sleeps with a tiger

Steve Sipek sleeps with a tiger

 

Steve Sipek dozes with his tigers.

Steve Sipek dozes with his tigers.

 

 

 

Steve Sipek Jr. went for a walk with a lion in the mid-1970s.

Steve Sipek Jr. went for a walk with a lion in the mid-1970s.

 

Steve Sipek's son, Steve Jr., in bed with big cats.

Steve Sipek’s son, Steve Jr., in bed with big cats.

 

Like his father, Sipek Jr. dozes with a tiger

Like his father, Sipek Jr. dozes with a tiger

 

Volume 2772
ERBzine Spotlight on Tarzan Actor
STEVE HAWKES


BACK TO THE ’70S


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Steve’s affection for his cats is obvious. He got Sampson three years ago after he had begun playing Tarzan in the movies. Delilah came along with Frances, as a wedding present.”When I was a boy growing up in Yugoslavia I saw Johnny Weissmuller in the movies and then I dreamed all my life about being Tarzan and having my own lion. My dream came true, that doesn’t happen to a lot of people. But I worked for it. You have to have the physique, you know.

Steve certainly has that. At 6-1, 228, he looked like a well-shaped tree trunk moving about the living room. “I got my build as a long distance swimmer and then I lifted some weights after I got to Canada and began wrestling. You’ve go to be strong to throw those guys around.”

Steve sneaked across the border to the West when he was 17. After a few years in Canada where he wrestled professionally, he made his way to Miami, a handsome young man in his mid-20s, with an incredible build and a wild mane of hair.

“I got into the movies after I got to Miami,” he said. “I’ve just bought the rights to my first picture and I’m getting ready to show it here in this country. It’s been shown in Florida before but it’ll be the first time in the rest of the country.”

“I’m making a movie right now,” he says. “It’s entitled Born to Love and it stars the cats and my son, Steve, Jr.  It’s about a boy who gets separated from his father and wanders alone in the Everglades with a tiger and a lion. They have all sorts of adventures.”

THE FLORIDAN newspaper, dated, December 17, 1972.

 


Steve Sipek dreamed of having a lion since he was a boy 
admiring Johnny Weissmuller in the Tarzan movies. 
He eventually got to play Tarzan himself, and he got his lion, Sampson.

The cats live at Sipek’s home with him and his wife.
Steve and Frances are content to live behind heavy fences.
.

 

 


Kitty Swan was Steve’s co-star in “Tarzan and the Rainbow”
where Sampson was to rescue them from flames.
The stunt literally misfired, and Sampson actually did save them.
The actors were burned over 70 per cent of their bodies.

Steve chomps playfully on Sampson’s nose.
Steve says training the cats would confuse them.
Instead he rewards them for good behavior 
and spanks them when they’re bad.

 


THE FILMSIMDB FILMOGRAPHY
   1. Stevie, Samson and Delilah (1975)
   2. The Sexiest Story Ever Told (1973)
   3. Tarzán y el arco iris (1972) …. Tarzan
      … aka Tarzan and the Brown Prince (International: English title)
      … aka Tarzan e la pantera nera (Italy)
   4. Blood Freak (1972) …. Herschell
      … aka Blood Freaks
   5. Tarzán en la gruta del oro (1969) …. Zan
      … aka King of the Jungle (USA: video title)
      … aka Tarzan in the Golden Grotto (USA: literal English title)
      … aka Zan, King of the Jungle
      … aka Zan, re della giungla (Italy)
   6. Desire Under the Palms (1968) (uncredited)
   7. Odd Triangle (1968) (as Steve Pipick) …. Carl Parker
      … aka Curious Triangle (USA: alternative title)
   8. The Walls Have Eyes (1964) …. Jack CohenDirector:
   1. Stevie, Samson and Delilah (1975) (as Steven Hawkes)
   2. Blood Freak (1972)
      … aka Blood FreaksWriter:
   1. Blood Freak (1972) (writer)
Producer:
   1. Blood Freak (1972) (producer)
Self:
   1. “100 höjdare” …. Himself – Guest (1 episode, 2008)
          – Världens skönaste land – Del 4 (2008) TV episode (as Steve Sipek)
Place of Birth: Croatia
Birth Name: Steve Sipek

 


 


Mini Bio
Born in Eastern Europe, Hawkes immigrated to America as a teenager to pursue an acting career citing Johnny Weissmuller as a childhood influence. He played a Tarzan type character in a series of Spanish language movies. In Spain his character was referred to as Tarzan, but when they were released in English language territories they directly avoided mentioning the Tarzan name, instead referring to Hawkes character as Zan of the Jungle. In 1971 he played the lead in the much loved exploitation movie Blood Freak in which he turns into a monster turkey. In the mid-Seventies he was badly burnt in an on-set accident putting an end to his acting career. Now completely retired, today he runs an animal sanctuary out of Florida.

IMDb Mini Biography By: Antony Butcher

Trivia
On July 13, 2004, his pet tiger Bobo escaped from his compound in Loxahatchee, Florida and was shot and killed the next day by a Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission Officer, bringing national media attention to the incident. Hawkes believes the officer “murdered” Bobo needlessly.Steve HawkesWhile filming the Tarzan and the Rainbow in 1970, on location at Rainbow Springs, Steve Hawkes (Tarzan) and Kitty Svanholm (Jane) were badly burned. During the filming of a torture scene, the two actors were tied to stakes when gasoline-soaked leaves ignited and both were burned seriously. They were rushed to the University of Florida Medical Centre in Gainsville. They remained there for months for skin graft treatment, while the rest of the crew departed for Bogota, Columbia and on to Spain,  to shoot more scenes. The film  eventually saw Spanish release in 1974.

On July 19, 2004, 6 days after his pet tiger Bobo escaped from his compound in Loxahatchee, Florida and was shot and killed, his house caught on fire. He recently had a new air conditioner installed, and it apparently malfunctioned and sparked the blaze. Crews had a hard time getting to the fire because Sipek has electrical fencing to keep his other exotic animals caged in. But the fire was eventually extinguished, and all animals on the property were reported in good condition.

He resides in Loxahatchee, Florida

 

 


NEWSPAPER CLIPPINGS


Tarzan in FloridaThe latest in a long line of movie Tarzans and Janes, plus a supporting cast of Italian actresses, directors and other members of a motion picture making crew quietly slipped into Dunnellon, Florida. About as inconspicuous as a wart on the Queen’s nose, they scurried here and there, purchasing the necessities for building a tree house and other sets on the Rainbow River.Tarzan, who’s built like Tarzan should be, with a 51 inch chest measurement (normal), nonchalantly strolled about town with his pet lion. Kids asked for his autograph and received an unintelligible scrawl after being asked, “How did you know I’m Tarzan?” The film according to one source, is being filmed for foreign distribution with the original dialogue to be in English and the foreign language dubbed in later. According to another informant, Martinez is quite impressed with the Dunnellon area and is even thinking of setting up studios there.

Tarzan Film Stars Recuperate Following ExplosionFIRE VICTIM — Steven Hawkes, playing the role of Tarzan in a movie being filmed at Rainbow Springs and Dunnellon, along with Kitty Svanholm as Jane, is steadily improving at the University Medical Center in Gainsville following the accidental explosion of gasoline soaked leaves in a “torture by fire” scene. Both of the young actors were burned over 90 percent of their bodies before a film crew could extricate them from their bonds. Hawkes is expected to be able to return to work sooner than Miss Svanholm who is not expected to be able to return to work for at least three months.

 


Production of TARZAN AT THE RAINBOW a movie being filmed on location at Dunnellon and Rainbow Springs by an international group, continued as the stars of the film recuperated at the University Medical Center in Gainsville, Florida.Tarzan, portrayed by Steve Hawkes, 28, and his leading lady, Kitty Svanholm 26, as Jane, were seriously burned last Saturday during the filming of a torture by fire sequence at Rainbow Springs.

Four other members of the film crew, including Rene Martinez, the director, and Mahnahen Velasco, assistant director, also received minor burns and were released after being treated at Munroe Memorial Hospital in Ocala, Florida.

The actress, who received especially severe burns about the feet, is not expected to be able to work for at least three months.

The near-tragedy occurred while Tarzan and Jane were tied to stakes and a tree in the torture scene. Gasoline soaked leaves surrounding them exploded when ignited by a torch as the group prepared to shoot the final sequence after several rehearsals.

Hawkes, Yugoslav, and Miss Svanholm, from Sweden, both scantily costumed for the scene, received burns over 90 percent of their bodies, but reports from members of the cast indicate that neither suffered serious facial disfigurement.

Members of the cast and crew praised the cool-headedness of Fred Blair, attractions supervisor of Rainbow Springs who is also serving as an assistant director for the film, and Assistant Director Velasco, during the near panic which followed the explosion.

The movie is being produced by NEW ERA PRODUCTIONS, based in MIami, Florida and Madrid, Spain. The 20-member group on location here is made up of Cubans, Italians, Swedes and Yugoslavian nationals and refugees.

Jungle river sequences of the film were shot on Monday and Tuesday along the Withlacooche River, using an old phosphate pit close to the center of Dunnellon, as the simulated site of a tropical lagoon. Angel Del Pozo, as the white animal hunter, and Agata Flori as his Philadelphia-born wife, were featured in the scenes along with three elephants form the Husley Brothers Circus.

The crew of NEW ERA PRODUCTIONS plan on going to Bogota, Columbia to finish shooting scenes there, while Tarzan and Jane are recuperating.

 


ZAN, KING OF THE JUNGLE(aka Tarzan in the Golden Grotto)  (1970) 


A Spanish-Italian Tarzan rip-off from director Manuel Cano.  Zan (played by Steve Hawkes) is a white man, who happens to be king of the jungle.  But the black natives want him dead, so they can get after the treasure of the Amazons.  Zan befriends the Amazon queen (Kitty Swan), who tells him the secret of the treasure.  Later, Zan is shot by one of the blacks, but is saved by an old gold prospector.  Zan repays him with some of the gold, but when the old man returns to town the jealousy of some locals are incited, and they kill him to find out where the gold is hidden.  Matters are further complicated when the prospector’s daughter shows up, to find her father and bring him back to civilization.  But the criminals have set their eyes on her as well.  Also starring is Antonio Casas, Jesus Puente, Fernando Sancho, Krista Nell, and others.  Written by Umberto Lenzi.



 


TARZAN AND THE BROWN PRINCE (aka Tarzan and the Rainbow) (1972)
A jungle adventure starring Steve Hawkes, Kitty Swan, Peter Lee Lawrence, Angel del Pozo, Agata Flori, and others.
Directed by Manuel Cano.

VIEW THE FILM TRAILER HERE


 

TARZAN AND THE BROWN PRINCE
Also known as: Tarzan and the Rainbow.
A review by Orvy Jundis ~ Reprinted from the Jasoomian 1973The movie version of TARZAN AND THE BROWN PRINCE was filmed in the jungles of South America. Steve Hawkes portrayed Tarzan and Robin Aristorenas played the part of Nasu, the Brown Prince.

The film was based on the comic book novel that was serialized int eh Philippines. The art work was done by Franc Reyes. The script was written in Tagalog, the main dialect of the country. The serial appeared weekly and ran for sixteen weeks..

The story deals primarily with the adventures of Nasu, a young boy, and his rival and opponent Ukali, a big and mean warrior. Both are in contention for the empty throne which was left vacant by the death of the old chief. In order to become king the contestants must go through a series of tests. The winner gets the throne.

The comic book version contains many exciting scenes such as Tarzan fighting a crocodile, stampeding elephants, and a wild helicopter ride culminating into an explosion when the copter loses control and rams into a giant tree.

 



click for full-screen images


ERB HEROINES of ~ HEARTH ~ STAGE ~ SCREEN ~ RADIO
http://www.erbzine.com/mag6/0608.html

 

1. ZAN, KING OF THE JUNGLE ( TARZAN & THE GOLDEN GROTTO)
2. TARZAN AND THE BROWN PRINCE (TARZAN & TREASURE OF THE EMERALD CAVE or TARZAN & THE RAINBOW)
(1970 & 1972 ~ unauthorized Spanish-made Tarzan movies) Steve Hawkes
AMAZON QUEEN & IRULA (JANE): KITTY SWAN
Birth Name: Kirston Svanholm
While filming Tarzan, King of the Jungle in 1970, on location at Rainbow Springs, Steve Hawkes (Tarzan) and Kitty Swan (Jane) were badly burned. During the filming of a torture scene, the two actors were tied to stakes when gasoline-soaked leaves ignited and both were burned seriously. They were rushed to the University of Florida Medical Centre in Gainsville. They remained there for months for skin graft treatment, while the rest of the crew departed for Bogota, Columbia and on to Spain, to shoot more scenes. (Eventual 1974 release in  Spain)
MOVIES: Criminali della galassia, 1965 ~ Deadlier Than the Male, 1966 ~ Operation Kid Brother, 1967
KITTY SWANKITTY SWAN

 


BLOOD FREAK
A Cult Favourite starring Steve Hawkes as a chicken
(Obviously a non-Tarzan role)


 



 

 


Blood Freak (1972)
A Dracula On Drugs!
Only the blood of drug addicts can satisfy the thirst of the blood freak monster!


Directors & Writers: Brad F. Grinter ~ Steve Hawkes
Cast:  Steve Hawkes as Herschell | Dana Cullivan | Heather Hughes | Bob Currier | Anne Shearin . . . more>>>
Plot: IMDBThere’s probably no other movie like this one anywhere in the world. Not even the Turks, as laughingly inept as THEY are at committing films to celluloid could dream up anything this unintentionally hilarious. I’m only scratching the surface here. This might in fact be the Holy Grail of bad/good horror movies, respect due to “Creeping Terror” and “Plan 9 From Outer Space”.

Herschell, a muscular Elvis lookalike with an Eastern Bloc accent and horrible burn scars, hits the Florida highways on a chopper he’s about a hundred pounds too big for when he comes upon Angel, a damsel in distress having car trouble. He gives her a lift to her house, where a groovy drug party is going down, hosted by her sister Ann, a seventies-tastic young thing with Sharpied-on eyebrows and a room full of fifty-year-old friends. Herschell soon learns that Angel is a bible-quoting do-goodnik, and her sister Annis a party girl. Though Herschell is more interested in the scripture-quoting Christian, Ann sneakily wins his affections by conning him into toking a doobie by the pool. Only the joint in question turns Herschell into a simpering junkie in the span of ten minutes or so. Meanwhile the girls’ father gets Herschell a job at a nearby turkey farm as a human guinea pig, where two turkey scientists feed our hero chemically-altered turkey meat. They even offer him some drugs as an added perk.

After consuming an entire drug-laden turkey wrapped in tin foil (with no side dishes or drink to wash it all down), Herschell collapses in the grass, in a dope induced twitching spasm, and blacks out. When he comes to, he finds that some wise guy has replaced his normal head with an oversized papier mache turkey head with fangs and ping pong ball eyes. Now a terrifying titular blood freak, he sets out to hang dope-loving hippies from a ladder, sloppily drinking their blood (which spurts from a hose under their shirt) in cupped hands as a stock terror shriek is played repeatedly, even when the hippie in question has her mouth closed. In a mire of despondency and gorged on drug-blood, Herschell lumbers back to Ann in hopes she can save him from his current low state. Despite his horrifying feathery appearance, Ann turns the lights off and fucks the turkey monster (…”Oooh,Herschell,oooh”…”gobblegobble”) before gathering her long-haired buddies to collectively drum up a plan to save Herschell’s life.

The blood freak escapes to murder a drug dealer, circular sawing off the poor bastard’s prosthetic leg,leaving him to drown in stage blood,clutching the plastic stump and screaming for a minute straight before finally joining the choir invisible.He then kills another junkie broad and an elderly onlooker before incurring the wrath of an enraged overweight redneck,who hops a fence and plunges an ice pick into one of the fiend’s ping pong eyes.The goofy turkey head shows up on a dinner table next to a real cooked turkey,which is savaged bare-handedly by chattery off-camera poultry aficionados.The audience is then revisited by chain-smoking on-screen narrator,Brad Grinter,who rambles incoherently from a script on the table before nearly choking to death in delivering the film’s apparently Christian message. We cut back to Herschell at the turkey farm — unconscious from his drug spaz — and find that the whole turkey nightmare was merely a badly filmed psychotic hallucination, spurred on from a reaction of the turkey drugs and marijuana. At the close, Herschell and Ann find a better life through Christ, our lord. Amen. Cue the groovy acid rock guitar score.

 


A More Recent Steve Hawkes (Sipek) News Story


Officers kill escaped tiger, said animal lunged at them
A distraught Steve Sipek speaks to the media about the killing of his pet tiger, Bobo on Tuesday.
2005 ~ USA Today
LOXAHATCHEE, Fla. (AP) — The owner of an escaped tiger fatally shot by wildlife officers said Wednesday that he believes someone opened several gates, enabling the big cat to get out.Steve Sipek, an actor who once played Tarzan, said the gates would have had to be opened before the 6-year-old tiger, named Bobo, could have reached the 12-foot wall surrounding his property. He did not say who might have done it. “He was let out by somebody who is interested in causing problems,” Sipek told CBS’ The Early Show. Sipek has another tiger, a panther, a cougar and lions on his five-acre compound, which is marked by a sign that reads, “Trespassers will be eaten.” They did not escape. (Related video: Tiger sought earlier)

Willie Puz, a spokesman for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, said Wednesday that Sipek’s claim was being investigated. He said Sipek has licenses for the big cats, but said he could not comment on whether they could now be revoked because that is part of the investigation.

Bobo was shot and killed Tuesday when officials say it lunged at a wildlife officer who was trying to capture it. But Sipek, who developed a soft spot for jungle beasts after playing Tarzan in B-movies decades ago, said he doubted the tiger had to be killed. He said he would have been able to coax the tiger to safety if officers had called him to the scene before shooting it. “Murder is the word,” Sipek said. “They murdered a poor helpless animal that only looked ferocious, as any tiger would, but Bobo had a heart of gold.”

A dozen wildlife trackers and sheriff’s deputies had searched more than 24 hours for the animal, which escaped Monday. They had kept watch Tuesday in a five-acre area of dense slash pines and palm trees, hoping to catch it. Officers approached the tiger intending to shoot it with tranquilizers. But the tiger jumped at one officer, who fired a shotgun in self-defense, said Jorge Pino, a wildlife commission spokesman. “Needless to say, the owner is very distraught. We’re distraught,” Pino said. “Our concern was to recover this tiger alive and well.”

Sipek says he developed his affection for big cats after one pulled him from a fire on a set more than 30 years ago, saving his life, and he promised then he would always take care of such animals if he recovered. He told ABC’s Good Morning America on Wednesday that wildlife officials had told him they wouldn’t try to capture Bobo until later Tuesday evening, so he went to take a shower. He said he was coming back to rejoin the search when he heard five shots and “my heart sank,” knowing he hadn’t protected Bobo. “I kept my word, except I failed yesterday, trusting people,” he said. He said wildlife officials were laughing after the shooting. “It was a glorified thing for them,” he said.

Puz denied the officers were laughing, saying Sipek was too far away to see the officers’ demeanor, which he described as “somber.” Some nearby residents, who moved to the rural area so they could have room for their own pets, had little sympathy for Sipek, saying his big cats are dangerous. “What I want to know is when he was in captivity, how long did he go without a feeding?” said Kim Smith, who has horses and dogs that she normally keeps outside. “Tigers are predatorial. All of us moved out here because we’re city people wanting a taste of the country. But this is a little funky.”

Wildlife officials had said they did not believe the declawed pet would attack. He was never taught to hunt, and had never killed anything or lived in the wild. However, he did bite a woman working inside his cage two years ago, severely injuring her. An expert on tiger behavior disagreed that Bobo had posed no danger. “Tigers are wild animals and they retain hard-wired instincts and to say just because a tiger doesn’t have his claws — so what? He still has his teeth and they’re powerful,” said Ron Tilson, conservation director at the Minnesota Zoo.

Sipek’s compound sits about 10 miles from West Palm Beach, just off a main east-west thoroughfare. “He never should have had these animals in the first place,” said Andrea Newell, who grew up two doors away and was visiting family on Tuesday. In 1985, a tame, three-legged black leopard belonging to Sipek eluded searchers for nearly three days before being found wandering near a fence on his property.

Read More

Posted on Sep 28, 2014 in Abuse, Shut Down | 0 comments

Welch’s Tiger Experience AKA Joe Schreibvogel

Welch’s Tiger Experience AKA Joe Schreibvogel

Welch’s Tiger Experience aka Awakening Production aka G.W. Exotics aka Beth Corley aka Tigers in Need

 

Where do those cute cubs go – you make the call

What’s the truth behind that cute cub you can pose with and photograph at the fair?

Isn’t it time everyone knew?

Every summer, fairs around the country feature wild animal acts to entertain and draw in the public. Though some may know they’re fueling the exotic animal industry, many do not, nor do they care.

Baby photo-op cubs are taken from their mothers far too young and are dumped after they’re only 12 weeks old – the legal limit for allowing general public contact with them.

Where do they all go? More and more litters must be bred, multiple times a year, until the mothers can breed no more. Then they are discarded, too.

Just like some fair organizers are unaware of this, most fairgoers may not know the truth either. They don’t realize zoos won’t take them, accredited non-profit sanctuaries are full, and the exhibitor has no intention of supporting an expensive carnivore for the next 20+ years of its life.

So, what alternative does that leave for these animals…death…being sold for parts…being sold to a taxidermist…being used as a breeder? It’s a cruel reality that the general public wouldn’t support if they knew the horrible fate awaiting these castoff animals – and they certainly wouldn’t want a picture at the fair to remind them of it!

The Davis County Fair scheduled Great Cat Adventures for an exhibition in a few weeks, unaware that a license was even required to exhibit wild animals! Great Cat Adventures had their license suspended in January, after over 2 years of prosecution and while countless animals were bred and abused by them.

Now, Davis County Fair is quickly looking for a replacement act. They’re even considering Welch’s Entertainment a/k/a G.W. Exotics, another exhibitor with a long, notorious history of animal abuse, license suspensions, public endangerment, citations and steep fines from the USDA.

Let Davis County Fair and the USDA hear loud and clear that people who care about animals don’t want these kinds of activities at fairs and won’t support this type of animal abuse any longer. The USDA may not have the manpower to shut these operators down, but you can – with your voice & by not attending fairs that feature these exhibitions.

TAYLOR — When Judi Vig, a member of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, saw exotic animals on display Wednesday at Southland Center, it sent alarms off in her mind.

She called City Hall to check that everything was in order with the display and to voice concerns about the animals’ welfare.

Vig said PETA has had issues with G.W. Exotic Animals of Wynnewood, Okla., which houses the animals Awakening Production uses.

Awakening Production came to Southland with lion and tiger cubs and a baby kangaroo. 

It set up a display where people could see the animals, and if they wanted, pay $25 for two people to spend eight minutes in a cage with tiger cubs and a trainer. Today is the show’s last day.

Awakening Production had not obtained a permit to hold a special event, which is required, said Joseph Nardone, the city’s executive director of development services.

 A representative of the company came to City Hall with a letter from Southland Center giving permission for the event and to seek a permit, he said. 

Ordinance and animal control officers investigated the complaint, he said.

 Animal control officers found no violations, city officials said. The permit was issued.

 As of Thursday afternoon, the company was in compliance with all city ordinances, Nardone said.

 “Getting to touch a baby tiger is a moment in a lifetime,” said Michael Bussey, stage manager for Awakening Production.

 “You’re seated. You go in with a certified trainer. The tigers will roam around the cage, crawl on your lap, and you can pet them. ”

There were plenty of takers, from young children to a 93-year-old woman, he said. But mainly, it was young families, especially mothers with their children.

Awakening Production also put on a free magic show each day. The purpose behind the magic show is to educate the public about ownership of exotic animals, Bussey said.

It booked several visits with General Growth Properties, ggp.com which owns Southland Center and other malls across the country, Bussey said.

Awakening Production came with a 4-month-old white tiger; two 8-week-old tigers, which went into the play cages with visitors; a 13-week-old tiger; two 3-week-old lions; and a 3-month-old kangaroo, said Vicky Welch, road manager and animal caretaker. 

Fourteen people, including stage crew and animal caretakers, travel with the animals, Welch said.

Comments:

all you sorry people that have no clear understanding related to animal rights….The show at Southland was for self gain……Do you all know HOW MUCH MONEY THEY MADE! At the expense of breeding tigers that they can take around the country…to make money off you fools then they give or sell those tigers when they are too big…they end up in China and so on for their herbal cures….you people need to wake up, your just as guilty as they are….don’t tell this woman to wake up she is very much awake…which is more then what I can say to you sorry people that can’t engage your children into more productive activity to protect the environment and rights of animals…..you all get off easy putting your kid in a cage with an abused animal and you think your TEACHING or putting a star on your forehead for being a good parent….do your homework first!!!! Also, PETA along with other animal groups are all around…what do you think your local animal shelters, PAWS, etc…..what do you think they do…Also, The circus animals are also in a mess of abuse….pay attention and get involved…Don’t attend GIB. Trade Center Circus……I wonder how many of you people that gave your hard earned money or welfare check money to this group just ignored putting a good meal on your table for your kids….Oh I know I forgot people like you get off easy…..processed food for the kids…right…$1.00 burgers at mcdonalds….PS…..I’m proud of my kids they wanted NO part of this! ” go michigan

” I’m not a member of PETA but would NEVER EVER put my kids in a cage with a wild animal…..I don’t ever want them to think that it is cute or FAIR to the animal, they do not need to be in cages they need to be in their natural environment…..free….not caged! City of Taylor and Southland should be ashamed for allowing this! I’m HAPPY this girl made the phone call….we need more people like her… ” non member of PeTA

” while everyone who paid money to sit with an exotic animal and said it was a great family moment talk about wake up and smell the real world if u thought that was so great an experience WHAT ABOUT THE ANIMALS where are their parents? how about the family experience for the wild animals?For areal family experience try the park, playing catch with ur kids when are parents going to get it MEMORIES CANNOT BE BOUGHT THEY MUST BE EXPERIENCED!!Thankfully this woman knew that and tried to point that out, good for her THANK YOU!!! ” wendy

” I was at the mall today doing some shopping with my son. We didn’t even know about the ‘show’ until we were walking through the mall.

We wandered over and looked into one of the cages. There was a man sitting on the floor, holding his toddler daughter. The little girl was terrified of the baby tiger. She was screaming and kicking at the tiger. I think she made contact at one point. The employee never suggested the child be taken out of the cage, nor did the father have enough brains to cut the ‘visit’ short.

Now, repeat that scenario several times a day, in different cities, year round and tell me that these animals aren’t being exploited and mistreated. It made me sick.

I am not a member of PETA. I agree that the organization is full of kooks. They were correct in their assessment of this ‘show’, however. ” calumet

” This is another sad excuse for an “educational show”, where in reality these animals are being exploited for one reason only – monetary gain. These cute baby tiger and lion cubs will grow up to be 300-500 lb big cats and are destined for a life in captivity or worse, can end up in canned hunts or killed for the black market. There are more tigers in captivity in the United States then there are in the wild. Until laws are passed restricting private ownership and exploitation of these great cats, this type of animal cruelty will continue. For more information about “Big Cat Exhibition” visit: http://www.bigcatrescue.org/bigcatexhibition.htm ” tigress62

Why would you ask such a question? “Are you with them 24/7″? Well, what you do think? NO! That is why I said hopefully, they get fed and are well taken care of. I do not associate with the animals mentioned in this article nor do I know the trainers and/or owners.

Think about this, “protectanimals”, they MUST be PROPERLY TRAINED, because why else would this company allow people to GO INSIDE THE CAGES WITH THE ANIMALS? It would be insane to let in-experienced people into a cage with a wild animals, babies or not.

Here’s something else to think about. If the animals weren’t trained, don’t you think the company would of done something about that? Obviously they are, because why would a company like this allow in-experienced people into a cage with a wild animal? I don’t post on this blog to argue! ” josh

” Josh…..they are pretty harmless at this age……..they are far from trained, they are helpless and are used for money (it’s a million dollar company), when they get too big they are not used anymore, they only breed them for their shows and once they get a certain age thats it for them…..’cause they can not be on the shows anymore..they sure would not let a child go in a cage with an adult tiger…this person who made the call to the city did it out of concern and I have to agree with her…this company just came in for the money and they will go to the next town….they made alot of money from the downriver residents, they are pros! ” ” Also, Josh, Those workers would NEVER get in a cage with an adult tiger or lion….Never….the workers are only trained to work the crowd for the money and once again they have duped the public….those poor animals….their fate will not be good…I’m a retired teacher and have been a advocate for animals for many many years and have also known about this G.W. Exotic Animal group for a long time, they are very sly and never let anyone know what town they are going to next. “protectanimals

” How can any reporter do a story about baby lions and tigers at a mall and not investigate how it was that they were bred into such a miserable life and what will happen with them in a couple of months when they are too big to pet. Any one with access to the Internet could easily find out that these precious animals will spend the rest of their lives in tiny, filthy cages, be shot for their pelts, cut up for meat or worse. If people don’t know, it is because they choose to be ignorant, but that doesn’t ease the suffering. More at Dying To Be Held http://www.bigcatrescue.org dot org/000news/0articlesbybcr/2008DyingToBeHeld dot htm ”

” You are so right BIGCATRESCUE…the news herald was very partial with this article….they could have done more, they wanted this to be just another cute article…shame on them…..most of the article is centered around the people who put on the show…what do you think they are going to say..they are making a lot of money..they sugar coated the whole event..make phone calls and complain…I wonder if they will post any of these comments as a follow up in the paper…and phone calls need to go to the city hall and southland mall for allowing this……Why didn’t the news herald reporter talk to the crowd about this animal show? They took one phone call and then went out and let the event employees make it look so great…and why wasn’t the permit pulled prior to the show…how come that wasn’t asked? How come this animal show wasn’t advertised anywhere prior to coming? How come that wasn’t asked? You know why…they don’t want anyone to know they are coming to a local mall. How come the paper didn’t asked “where do the animals go when they are grown, is it right to pull these babies away from the mother, how ’bout the baby kangaroo that should be in the mothers pouch not a purse hanging from a rack….the paper could have done BETTER asking questions…..maybe next time they will send a smarter reporter that thinks outside the box and doesn’t just interview the event employees or take cute pictures of these babies….The paper should have had the pictures of reality of these tigers/lions stuck in cages or cut up for meat etc. Dear News Herald…take a good look at your cute little pictures you put in the newspapers of the baby tigers and I hope you always remember that cute little face will be shipped off when too big, sold for meat/hide/herbal and have a life of abuse before they are killed….next time news-herald TELL the whole story! ” protectanimals

” PETA, DOESN’T THAT STAND FOR “PEOPLE EATING TASTY ANIMALS,
IN ALL SERIOUSNESS, LOOKING AT ANIMALS IN CAGES IS ONE THING, BUT ALLOWING PEOPLE TO GO INSIDE THE CAGE WITH A WILD ANIMAL IS NOT A GOOD IDEA, PERHAPS EVERYONE SAW THE HIGH SCHOOL SENIOR IN THE CAGE GETTING HER YEARBOOK PICTURE TAKEN IN MINNESOTA LAST YEAR, SHE WAS MALLED TO DEATH, (ITS OKAY THE TRAINER SAID, WE DO THIS EVERY YEAR!) WHAT ABOUT THE TELEVISION COMMERICAL CHIMP WHO RECENTLY ATTACKED BITING A WOMAN HANDS OFF, HER FACE, AND EYES, FORGOT ABOUT SIGFRIED & ROY, OR THE FAMOUS AUSTRALIAN CROCIDILE MAN? THIS WEEK ON THE NEWS A WOMAN FOUGHT OFF A COUGAR WHO ATTACKED HER SON ON A WALKING TRAIL, ANIMALS NEED TO BE SECURED IN A ZOO (TWO YOUNG MEN WERE KILLED RECENTLY AT SAN FRANCISCO ZOO WHEN A LION ESCAPED) LEAVE THEM IN THE WILD, & REMEMBER WHEN YOU VISIT YOU ARE PART OF THE FOOD CHAIN!!!!!!!!1 ” hello

” Why would any parent let their child get in a cage with an animal?????This isn’t like a visit to santa or the easter bunny. Bad Parenting! ” why

” Who CARES to what group the woman who reported it belongs. You people are so busy shooting the messenger you’ve completely ignored the message.

You REALLY can’t see anything wrong with taking babies away from their mothers? THREE WEEK old lion cubs don’t send up a red flag with you? Three week old cubs (three MONTH for that matter) should be with their mother, and vice versa. SHAME on this greedy company for exploiting animals (AND taking advantage of people with thicker wallets than brains). ” K

” The news herald is a great local paper and they do a good job however they got it wrong with this story. They need to tell the whole true story about this company and the future of these poor animals its like they just protected this company and forgot about the abuse to these animals. ” freespeech

This blog post lists dozens of aliases used by Joe Schreibvogel and business names he uses to disguise who he is and what he does.

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