Tiger Haven in Tennessee

MaryLynn Haven, FKA MaryLynn Roberts, AKA MaryLynn Parker.  See her long history with Kevin “doc” Antle and other cub exploiters here:

2021 Animals 24/7 Merritt Clifton  https://www.animals24-7.org/2021/06/08/tiger-kings-lose-stripes-in-nevada-oklahoma-texas/

Update 1/19/2020 the Department of Justice filed suit against Jeff and Lauren Lowe for pages and pages of alleged violations of the Endangered Species Act and USDA’s Animal Welfare Act.  We know they offloaded 49 big cats to MaryLynn Haven of Tiger Haven in TN (who now has 253 exotic cats as of Nov. 2020)  before moving the rest of the animals from the GW Zoo they had to turn over to Big Cat Rescue on Oct. 3, 2020.

We try hard to refrain from criticising Tiger Haven, because to our knowledge they do not breed, buy, sell, trade, allow public contact, nor take cats off site for exhibition, but we have a HUGE problem with the enabling of backyard breeders.  As long as they have a place they can dump their cats that isn’t inspected by USDA and where they won’t be exposed for their cruel acts to the cats they dispose of, it makes it possible for them to keep exploiting big cats and cubs.  We’ve talked to MaryLynn Haven over the decades and expressed our dismay, but she refuses to see her enabling for what it is.

Below is a transfer form from a circus to Tiger Haven.  While legitimate sanctuaries do rescue from circuses, zoos, private owners, etc., it should be with a contract that the people dumping last year’s cats can’t buy or breed more.  This does not seem to be the case at Tiger Haven with repeat offenders returning time and again.

Pages Circus Sends Tigers To Tiger Haven in 2020

Pages Circus Sends Tigers To Tiger Haven in 2017

Mario Tabraue of Zoological Wildlife Foundation sends jag & lion cubs to Tiger Haven

Tiger Haven was said to have 280 big cats in 2011 and to our knowledge does not buy, breed, sell, trade, nor allow public contact with the cats so we have not included them on this site for a long time.  They are not accredited and are not be licensed by USDA as of 2021, so the only agency that inspects them is the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency.  Most state owned “wildlife” agencies are devoted almost entirely to keeping themselves employed by selling hunting licenses to kill animals and thus are not moved to protect animals from abuse.  Anyone exhibiting wild animals is required to have a USDA license, and even though Tiger Haven isn’t open for regular visitors, they do have film crews periodically, which has been deemed to be exhibiting in other facilities.

The following story is posted only to give potential donors a glimpse into what life is really like for animals who end up in facilities that are not open to public scrutiny.  For Tiger Haven to refuse inspection by their County Commissioners and the description of the premises by Dan Hicks, of TWRA as “If you’ve ever seen a WWII prison movie in Germany, it’s very kind of similar to that,” does not make one feel that this is a place that you would want “rescuing” more cats.  All too often facilities start out with good intentions, but then learn that the only way to get donor support is to rescue more animals when they can’t even care for the ones they have.  The trouble Tiger Haven has had with their county has been going on from their beginning and is likely to end up imploding under the pressure of too many big cats and an inadequate long term strategy. (video was removed from the Internet so we can no longer access it)

A big cat facility in Roane County is under fire once again, this time, from a county commissioner.

Ray Cantrell, now in his second 4-year term as a commissioner, is proposing several resolutions related to Tiger Haven, a non-profit rescue sanctuary for big cats.

“The neighbors have a tremendous smell there, and the noise, from 2 o’clock in the morning sometimes up till daylight when they’re hungry, that rattles their windows,” Cantrell said. Kids are waking up screaming at night, (neighbors) claim.”

Cantrell said he’s been hearing complaints from nearby neighbors since he first took office.

“These people are hurting, and when they’re hurting, I’m hurting, and I want to help them if I can,” the commissioner said. “I’m not against the tigers, but I want them to be kept safe and protect my community there.”

The commission is set to vote on three resolutions proposed by Cantrell at a Monday night meeting.

First, Cantrell says he wants more access to Tiger Haven for county officials, adding he would like a tour for the county commission.

He says the commission made that request back in April 2009 but has never been allowed inside.

Dan Hicks, information officer for the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, says there’s a reason for that.

“Right now, the way the law is written, TWRA is the only government agency with the authority to go in and inspect this facility,” Hicks said. “The county government does not have that. Therefore, Tiger Haven does not have to let them in.”

TWRA is charged with overseeing and inspecting Tiger Haven. Hicks said that typically happens several times a year, with the most recent inspection taking place this past October.

Hicks adds that Tiger Haven has never failed these inspections.

However, Cantrell says he isn’t getting all the answers he’d like from TWRA or any of the other agencies he feels should be keeping tabs on the facility.

“I’ve decided, now we need to have some answers on who has oversight in and outside the place because of the noise, the smell, the runoff, a lot of various things that’s happening,” he said.

But Tiger Haven, through its attorney, S. Douglas Drinnon, points out it is frequently inspected by numerous agencies because of the many neighbor complaints.

Drinnon reports that the following agencies have performed their own inspections: Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation-Division of Water Pollution Control, Tennessee Department of Agriculture-Division of Forestry, the Roane County building inspector, and Roane County property assessor.

“Tennessee, via the regulations of the TWRA, has one of the most stringent (if not the most stringent) regulatory schemes for keeping and maintaining wildlife,” Drinnon said in a statement. “Tiger Haven, Inc. is one of the most inspected and most regulated facilities in the country.”

Still, Cantrell is not satisfied. His third resolution calls for placing a tracking device on each of the more than 280 big cats at Tiger Haven. And, he wants Tiger Haven to foot the bill.

“Right now, there’s no indication at all, or no identification,” he said. “If one got out, I don’t know if (Tiger Haven) would, but they could say, ‘that’s not ours,'” Cantrell said. “There’s always a possibility (of escape.) It’s not going to be if, it’s going to be when something like that happens.”

But Hicks said that those tracking devices would be “overkill.”

“If you’ve ever seen a WWII prison movie in Germany, it’s very kind of similar to that,” he said. “You’ve got your cage and inner perimeter fence, and you got a larger fence, and then you’ve got the fence the public sees, so there’d almost have to be an earthquake or a meteorite fall from the sky or a tree as big as a semi fall on those fences before that would allow animals to escape through that system.”

Hicks also points out there is a good emergency response plan in place in the event of an escape. Law enforcement officers would respond in the same way they would to a human hostage situation.

Hicks also took the time to praise the man behind that plan, Jack Jinks, who is the county’s new EMA director. Hicks says Jinks has been criticized as having a “conflict of interest” because Jinks also works for TWRA. But Hicks said Jink’s connection to TWRA, along with his decades of experience as a captain with the Knoxville Police Department, should be seen as an asset.

“I think it’ll all work out, I think it’ll come to a positive end, and the main thing is, we want the public to feel safe, not worry about it,” Hicks said. “They’ve been through enough in Roane County with the ash spill, and they don’t need to be worrying about lions and tigers and bears.”

The commission is set to approve the emergency response plan and vote on Cantrell’s resolutions at a meeting scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday at the Roane County Courthouse.

The following is a statement from Tiger Haven attorney S. Douglas Drinnon:

The TWRA regulates Tiger Haven, Inc.

Tiger Haven, Inc. is not open to the general public.  According to the records of the TWRA, since 1999, the facility has undergone over 56 inspections for safety and soundness.  At no time were there any conditions noted that constituted a threat to public safety.  Issues of any kind noted during any inspection have been promptly addressed.  Further, Tiger Haven, Inc. has been inspected by the TWRA on multiple occasions within the last year and was last inspected in October 2010.  Further, based upon complaints from neighbors, Tiger Haven, Inc. has been inspected by the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation-Division of Water Pollution Control on multiple occasions, the Tennessee Department of Agriculture-Division of Forestry, the Roane County Building Inspector on multiple occasions, and the Roane County Property Assessor.

At this time, we are not aware of any state that requires animals to be implanted with a chip or other such device described in the proposed resolution.  Thus, we would not be able to comment on the proposed resolution.

Fencing, security, and safety measures at Tiger Haven, Inc. are governed and regulated by the TWRA.  All of Tiger Haven, Inc.’s fencing, security, and safety measures comply with  the regulations of the TWRA.  Moreover, the perimeter fencing and cage security meet or exceed that of the Knoxville Zoo.

Tennessee, via the regulations of the TWRA, has one of the most stringent (if not the most stringent) regulatory schemes for keeping and maintaining wildlife.  Tiger Haven, Inc. is one of the most inspected and most regulated facilities in the country.

I would point out that Tiger Haven, Inc. is a non-profit corporation, which serves as a sanctuary for abused, abandoned, neglected, and unwanted large feline wildlife.  Tiger Haven, Inc. has been in operation for over 13 years.

Tiger Haven files $2.5 million countersuit, alleges neighbors launched illegal harassment

KINGSTON — The attorney for a big cat sanctuary that is the subject of a $10 million lawsuit by neighbors has filed a countersuit alleging those neighbors and others are on an “unlawful and deliberate campaign” to harass a lawful enterprise.

Dandridge attorney Doug Drinnon, who represents Tiger Haven Inc., filed the counterclaim this week in Roane County Circuit Court.

Drinnon also filed an application for a change of venue that contends the sanctuary and its representatives can’t get a fair trial in Roane County.

Drinnon asks in the alternative that jurors be imported from another county “to ensure a fair and impartial trial.”

There’s too much bias and prejudice against Tiger Haven, the application contends, and there’s been extensive media coverage “of the unfounded and inaccurate claims of Roane County residents and public officials.”

Tiger Haven is on 50 acres in rural eastern Roane County, and the nonprofit is now home to more than 250 lions, tigers and other big cats deemed neglected, abandoned or abused.

In June, several residents living near the Harvey Road sanctuary filed the $10 million complaint alleging among other things that Tiger Haven has “destroyed the quiet enjoyment” of their properties and that big cat waste runoff has contaminated adjoining land.

The complaint seeks to shut the sanctuary down or at least prevent operators from acquiring any more big cats.

Tiger Haven’s use of its land is “lawful and expressly permitted,” Drinnon states in the counterclaim, which seeks $2 million in punitive damages and $500,000 in compensatory damages.

Since 1996, neighbors have filed false or misleading complaints with state and local agencies, made false and inflammatory statements at public meetings, and sparked unwarranted inspections of the sanctuary, according to the counterclaim.

The legal action also contends the neighbors have “initiated, pursued and promoted a media campaign” against Tiger Haven.

Those efforts were aimed at harassing and humiliating Tiger Haven as well as inflicting “severe financial hardship” and ultimately shuttering the sanctuary, according to the counterclaim.

The application for a change of venue contends that since 1992, Tiger Haven has been targeted by numerous Roane County officials and residents “in efforts to extinguish their lawful existence as a sanctuary …”