Tigers, Tigers, Tigers

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 2000:

 

ANGELES NATIONAL FOREST, Calif.– – Wildlife Waystation founder Martine Colette speaks often of the need to halt exotic wildlife trafficking.

The 25-year-old Waystation, in the hills above Los Angeles, houses nearly 1,300 animals, most of them one-time exotic pets. Many were brought to Colette by law enforcement agencies who confiscated them from negligent or abusive owners, or found them at large.

As the 160-acre Waystation is nearly out of expansion space, Colette is developing a second site in Mojave Valley, Arizona, in order to take in more animals and give more running space to those who need it.

Thus it is ironic that the Arizona Game and Fish Department cited Colette in early March for alleged illegal importation of wildlife––a 20-week-old Bengal tiger.

Colette told Irene Garcia of the Los Angeles Times that the tiger was left by an unidentified man at a doggrooming shop in Missouri. The groomer called Colette, who agreed to take the tiger. But, Colette told Garcia, “It was too cold and the airline wouldn’t transport the tiger, so I got in my truck and met the groomer in Texas.”

Because the tiger was ill, Colette nursed him back to health at the Arizona facility, a day’s drive closer to the pickup point than the Waystation. Colette understood, she told ANIMAL PEOPLE, that she had a valid temporary permit to keep the tiger in Arizona while her applications for permanent Arizona and USDA licensing––filed in September 1999, but delayed by red tape––were pending.

Her court date was set for March 15.

 

While Colette battled bureaucracy, USA Today staff writer John Schmidt reported on March 7 that anonymous donors have given 350 acres and an endowment of $1 million to the Riverglen Feline Conservancy, run since 1973 by Betty Young of West Fork, Arkansas.

ANIMAL PEOPLE in November 1999 cancelled an advertising contract with Riverglen––accepted with the understanding that Young was no longer selling animals despite having done so in the past––after learning that Young was still breeding white tigers for use in commerce. One tiger, named Jupiter, was sold to Ronald and Doris Guay, of Alachua, Florida, who performed in circuses as Ron and Joy Holiday. In October 1998, Jupiter killed trainer Charles Lizza III, 34. Six weeks later, he killed Doris Guay, 59, and was shot by sheriff’s deputies.

Two other tigers bred at Riverglen were––and apparently still are––on exhibit at a theatre in Aruba.

The USA Today item was forwarded to ANIMAL PEOPLE by Brian Werner of Tiger Missing Link, a registry of privately owned tigers. Werner also sent above his own signature a set of National Rifle Association allegations against various animal rights groups [see page 13], which have actively opposed private trade in exotic wildlife.

Werner, now in Texas, ran into controversy in 1996-1997 over keeping two young tigers at his former home in East Union Township, Ohio. Werner eventually left the tigers at the Turpentine Creek sanctuary, run by Don Jackson and Tanya Smith in East Eureka, Arkansas. Questionable animal care conditions and accountability at Turpentine Creek were exposed in the March 1998 and December 1999 editions of ANIMAL PEOPLE.

“To date,” Werner said, “Jackson will not give the cats back, nor has he provided them with a natural enclosure, as promised.” .

 

 Other tiger refuges in trouble include Tigers Only, run by Joan Byron-Marasek in Jackson, New Jersey, and Kipling’s Animal Refuge, in Gretna, Nebraska.

After a tiger allegedly escaped and was shot in January 1999, Tigers Only was charged with multiple violations of the Animal Weflare Act; was accused by the Ocean County SPCA of neglecting 35 dogs found on the property, along with the 26 resident tigers; and was not relicensed by the New Jersey Division of Fish, Game, and Wildlife.

Bronx Zoo mammal curator Patrick Thomas told a state licensing appeal hearing on March 7 that the Tigers Only conditions “were by far the worst I have ever seen.”

Kipling’s Animal Refuge, reportedly operated for about 15 years by Kip and Stacey Smith, 34 and 31, was cited by Gretna officials for allegedly violating a city ordinance by keeping too many animals. The refuge is next door to a housing development now under construction.

The Smiths reportedly exhibit their animals often in presentations to schools and nursing homes, and some of the animals have appeared on TV with Jim Fowler, former co-star of Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom.

A new controversy involving Tiger Haven, of Knoxville, Tennessee, emerged on March 10 when a DELTA Rescue mailing list manager told ANIMAL PEOPLE that a broker representing several other sanctuaries had told her that DELTA Rescue could no longer borrow names from a sanctuary it has shared names with for many years, if it would not also share names with Tiger Haven.

Tiger Haven was founded in 1993 by Joseph Donovan Parker, 52, and his wife Mary Lynn Parker. Accused of skimming $50,000 in proceeds during 1986 and 1997 from charity bingo games, Joe Parker drew only a three-month sentence in custody for conspiracy and tax evasion, after turning prosecution witness in a joint federal/state probe of alleged corruption in bingo gambling that apparently led to the December 1989 suicide of Tennessee secretary of state Gentry Crowell.

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