Obituaries

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, October 2003:

Sonora Webster Carver, 99, died on September 21 in
Pleasantville, New Jersey, one day after her lifelong friend
Josephine K. DeAngelis, 92. Sonora Carver’s father-in-law, W.F.
Carver, started the diving horse act at the Steel Pier in Atlantic
City, with her husband Al as one of the riders, but the act
lastingly captured public interest only after Sonora Carver rode the
horse through the 40-foot plunge in 1924. DeAngelis and Sonora
Carver’s sister Arnette Webster French then joined the act, which
became a resident attraction at the Steel Pier in 1929. In 1931
Sonora Carver was blinded by detached retinas in a bad fall into the
water with a horse named Red Lips, but continued to ride the diving
horses for 10 more years. Her 1961 memoir A Girl & Five Brave Horses
inspired the 1991 Walt Disney Inc. film Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken.
The Carver act ended in 1978 when the original Steel Pier was closed.
A parallel act at the Lake Compounce Amusement Park in Bristol,
Connecticut, used a riderless horse. That act reportedly ended long
before the park itself closed, after 146 years, in 1991. A similar
riderless act started in 1977 at Magic Forest in Lake George, New
York, and is now the target of protests led by Equine Advocates.

Former Carver trainer Johnny Rivers started a traveling mule-diving
act in 1957, taken over in 1983 by his son, Tim Rivers, of Animals
In Motion in Citra, Florida. At first a monkey was chained to the
back of the diving mule. Later the mule dived alone. Tim Rivers in
1993 briefly revived the Steel Pier act, at the new pier, using a
mule and a miniature horse. Rivers fled to evade cruelty charges at
least five times in six states between 1979 and 2001. Brevard County,
Florida, in 1994 passed an emergency bylaw to ban the diving mule
act. A bill to ban the act statewide cleared the Florida House
agriculture committee in 1998, but did not advance. In 1999 Rivers
escaped cruelty charges brought by Justice for Animals in North
Carolina when the veterinarian who was to testify against him did not
appear. In November 2002, however, Rivers drew six months in
prison after pleading guilty to illegally selling two black leopards,
a Bengal tiger, an African lion, and a lion/tiger hybrid to a
Chicago-based ring that set up canned hunts and sold meat from rare
species. At least 14 of the 16 defendants in the case have now been
convicted.

Paula Barnard, kennel manager for the Domestic Animal Rescue
Society in Goodwood, South Africa, was ambushed and stabbed to
death by two unidentified men as she returned to the kennel on
October 9 after a shopping trip. The men also stabbed one of her two
daughters. The daughter survived with reportedly minor back
injuries. “There was no robbery–they were just stabbed,” DARG
managing director Joy Giovanini told Cape Times reporter Babalo
Ndenze There was no apparent motive for the attack, which resembled
the September 17 murder of St. Lucia Animal Protection Society
founder Jane Tipson (page 12). Thirty animals left without a
caretaker were relocated to other kennels, including a DARG facility
in Huot Bay.

James Rachels, 62, died of cancer on September 9 in
Birmingham, Alabama. In 1975, at about the same time that Peter
Singer published Animal Liberation, Rachels published an influential
article entitled Active & Passive Euthanasia in The New England
Journal of Medicine. “Along with Animal Liberation, the paper
helped start an applied ethics movement in philosophy that focused on
polarizing issues like abortion, animal rights, suicide, and
cloning,” remembered Anahad O’Connor of The New York Times.” In
something of a role switch, Singer during the 1990s wrote less about
animal issues and more about human euthanasia, while Rachels in 1991
published Created From Animals: the Moral Implications of Darwinism,
his most successful of five books, which argued that human evolution
from animals implies moral obligations of kinship toward animals.

Roxie Laybourne, 92, died on August 7 in Manassas,
Virginia. Joining the staff of the Smithsonian Institution in 1944,
after stints with the National Fisheries Laboratory and North
Carolina State Museum, Laybourne became perhaps the world’s leading
expert on bird identification from forensic evidence. In 1960 she
initiated the formal study of bird collisions with aircraft after
finding that a flock of starlings who were sucked into an engine had
caused a crash in Boston that killed 62 people. “Over the next
decades,” wrote Anahad O’Connor of The New York Times, “Laybourne
helped identify thousands of birds involved in collisions with
aircraft. Her work gave manufacturers information for designing
engines that could fly after ingesting birds, and helped
ornithologists to prevent flocks from gathering near airports.”
Laybourne also used her bird knowledge to help the FBI solve at least
one murder. Retiring from the Smithsonian in 1988, she remained
active as a consultant to the National Fish & Wildlife Forensic
Laboratory, helping to convict poachers and bird smugglers.

Nathan Tjiondo, 36, in charge of feeding six lions at the
Kavita Lion Lodge in Kamanjab, Namibia, was somehow pulled into the
enclosure housing three young lions on September 2 and fatally
mauled. The lodge is headquarters of the Afri-Leo Foundation,
formed by Tammy and Uwe Hoth in 1997 to “protect and conserve lions
in Namibia.”

Tshikani Nobela, 9, was fatally mauled by a leopard on
August 16 at Kruger National Park, South Africa, two years after
surviving a leopard attack that severely injured his older brother
Mothusi. The leopard who attacked the boys on that occasion killed
Kotie de Beer, 49, about an hour later. The boys’ father, Phineus
Nobels, is a Kruger National Park wildlife management advisor.

Timothy Treadwell, 46, and Amie Huguenard, 37, both of
Malibu, California, were on October 6 found mauled and partially
eaten by grizzly bears at their campsite in Katmai National Park &
Preserve on the Alaska Peninsula. A video camera captured the
sounds of their last moments, indicating that Treadwell was attacked
first, probably by an aged male who was one of two grizzlies shot at
the scene by park rangers and state troopers. Huguenard was
apparently killed while trying to save Treadwell. Their camp,
investigators said, was directly on a heavily used grizzly corridor.
A veteran of 13 summers of camping among the Katmai grizzlies,
Treadwell was co-author of Among Grizzlies: Living With Wild Bears
in Alaska, made three feature films about grizzlies and other
Alaskan wildlife with Joel Bennett of Juneau, maintained an
extensive web site about grizzlies, was subject of documentaries by
the Discovery Channel and Dateline NBC, and was interviewed about
his work with grizzlies by David Letterman and Rosie O’Donnell.
Huguenard had camped with him each summer for three years. “I’m
there to keep poachers and sport hunters away,” Treadwell said in
1999. “I’m much more likely to be killed by an angry sport hunter
than a bear.”

Tallifer Stanton, 8, of Port Arthur, Texas, drowned on
September 6 while trying to save his cat from a rain-swollen drainage
ditch. The cat drowned with him. Jennifer Stanton, 9, was swept
away by the current when she tried to grab both of them, but was
seen by workers at a pumping station and was rescued by a fire
department diver. Neither child could swim.

Betty Clayton died in late August in Atlanta. A longtime
member of the Atlanta Humane Society auxiliary and the Atlanta
Theosophical Society, Clayton was remembered by fellow activists
for pushing a bill to ban leghold traps through the Georgia Senate in
1979, though the House killed it with a maneuver that was
editorially denounced by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and for
helping to win passage of the 1980 federal bill that created the
Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

John Tucker, 76, died on October 27 in Stuart, Florida. A
retired Alaska pipeline worker, Tucker had been cited 16 times since
1997 for feeding feral cats, and left a backyard colony of about 40
cats who were trapped after his death by Martin County animal
control. “He did a pretty good job with them,” animal control
officer Christine Polizzi told Palm Beach Post staff writer Pat
Moore. “He had all of them vaccinated, and neutered all he could
catch.”

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