Obituaries [Jan/Feb 2010]

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, January/February 2010:


Billy Arjan Singh, 92, died on January 1, 2010 at his
Tiger Haven refuge, 250 kilometers from Lucknow, India. Born into
the Ahluwalia royal family of Kapurthala, Singh shot seven tigers as
a youth, but came to detest hunting as he saw tigers, leopards,
blackbuck, and other Indian “trophy” animals shot to the verge of
extinction. Founding Tiger Haven in 1959, which has never had any
relationship or resemblance to the captive tiger facility by the same
name in Tennessee, Singh created the private preserve that
eventually became Dudhwa National Park. Singh notoriously dragged
poachers to town behind his jeep and expressed unsympathetic views
about the losses of employees and visitors who brought their children
into proximity with the captive tigers and leopards he rehabilitated
for release and bred with former zoo stock, including Tara, a part
Siberian tiger he imported from England in 1976, dismissing
objections that he was “contaminating” the Indian tiger gene pool.

A recluse, whose closest companion for many years was his elephant,
Singh preserved wildlife at the cost of antagonizing so many people
that elected officials came to treat him as a public enemy. Backlash
against his methods, as well as flagrant corruption, nearly ruined
the Indian refuge system in the late 20th century, under the mantra
of “sustainable use.” The theory was that ordinary Indians would
support refuges only if the refuges contributed to their prosperity.
Refuges were opened to grazing, wood-gathering, and eventually to
so much other economic activity that some, like Sariska, were
reduced to heavily trafficked tourist corridors, losing the wildlife
that they were founded to protect. Valmik Thapar, an initially
reluctant student of Singh’s, redeemed Singh and the refuge concept
by demonstrating with Singh’s help and investment how habitat
reclamation could provide even greater economic benefits than the
other common uses of refuge land.

Roy Edward Disney, 79, died of stomach cancer on December
16, 2009 in Newport Beach, California. His father, Roy O. Disney,
and uncle, Walt Disney, co-founded Walt Disney Inc. in 1923. Roy
E. Disney joined the family business in 1953, after a year as
assistant film editor for the Dragnet TV series. In 1956 Walt Disney
and Roy E. Disney were duped into purchasing footage from independent
film maker Tom McHugh purporting to show lemmings rushing into the
sea. In truth, McHugh faked the scene by throwing Arctic voles into
a Canadian waterfall. Unaware it was fake, the Disneys incorporated
the footage into their documentary White Wilderness. Disney Inc.
withdrew White Wilderness from distribution after McHugh admitted the
fakery, shortly before his death, but it reappeared in 1994, in
video format, and was reissued in 1998–with blurbs highlighting the
“lemming” segment. Roy E. Disney meanwhile received Oscar
nominations as writer and production associate for the 1959 short
subject film Mysteries of the Deep, and as executive producer of
Destino, a 2003 film based on storyboards and art by Salvador Dali.
As longtime head of animation for Disney Studios, Roy E. Disney
presided over the production of many productions with pro-animal
messages, including Beauty & the Beast and The Lion King. He
retired in 2003.

Andy Mireles, 59, for 20 years a state district judge in
San Antonio, Texas, died of a heart attack on December 15, 2009.
Mireles on September 8, 2006 ruled that nine chimpanzees and two
human plaintiffs lacked standing to pursue a PETA-backed lawsuit
against the Primarily Primates sanctuary. The chimps were retired to
Primarily Primates by Ohio State University, with a $324,000
endowment for their facilities and care. Objecting to the transfer,
PETA pursued further litigation against Primarily Primates. The
sanctuary was placed in receivership due to PETA allegations in
October 2006, and the OSU chimps were transferred to Chimp Haven,
in Shreveport, Louisiana. The PETA allegations were dismissed in
2007. Primarily Primates became a project of Friends of Animals while
the initial litigation was underway, but only after the receivership
ended was FoA actually able to assume management of the sanctuary.
The Texas Fourth Court of Appeals upheld the original Mireles verdict
in January 2008.

Samuel DeWitt Haddock, 53, died in December 2009 of liver
failure, in Clermont, Florida. A circus elephant caretaker since
1976, Haddock in 1997 joined the staff of the Ringling Bros. and
Barnum & Bailey’s Center for Elephant Conservation in Florida. A
meat-eating dove hunter, Haddock was not involved in the long
history of litigation between Ringling and animal advocacy groups
(see page 13), but his wife Millie, who died in 2005, urged him to
come forward with what he knew. “My wife never liked what the
elephants went through at the circus, especially the baby
elephants,” Haddock declared in 2009. “Before she died, she told
me, ‘Sammy, I know you’ll do the right thing.'” Recounted
Washington Post staff writer David Montgomery, “Last spring Haddock
Jr. brought his story and snapshots to PETA director of captive
animal rescue and enforcement Debbie Leahy. PETA used Haddock’s
material to file a complaint with the USDA,” alleging violations of
the federal Animal Welfare Act and seeking to have the Ringling
permit to keep elephants revoked.

David Newman Radabaugh Sr., 72, died on December 10, 2009
at his home in Vero Beach, Florida. After a long college and
university teaching career, Radabaugh for 14 years volunteered for
the Humane Society of Vero Beach & Indian River County, where his
wife Joan Carlson was for 27 years executive director. “In 1992 he
coordinated a phone survey of 2,000 animal guardians to help the
shelter gain a better understanding of its community, and advocated
for other shelters to do the same,” recalled Janet Winikoff,
director of education for the Humane Society of Vero Beach & Indian
River County. The survey discovered that residents of the Vero Beach
area were approximately twice as likely to want to breed their dogs
as respondents to similar surveys done in other parts of the U.S.

Carl Gans, 86, died on November 30, 2009 in Austin,
Texas. Born in Hamburg, Germany, Gans emigrated to the U.S. in
1939. After World War II Army service in the Pacific theatre, Gans
studied herpetology in Brazil, but installed power boilers for a
living until 1958, when he began a 40-year university teaching
career. Known for studies of evolutionary biology and biomechanics,
Gans edited the journal Morphology for 25 years; edited the
23-volume Biology of the Reptilia, serialized from 1969 to 2009;
and authored the handbook Reptiles of the World.

Julie Ann Kroll, 39, a dog rescuer in Woodbridge,
Maryland, was found dead on December 29, 2009, near where she
crashed her car on December 16. Witnesses said she was “driving
recklessly,” wrote Washington Post staff writer Matt Zapotsky. An
open container of alcohol was found in the vehicle. Kroll’s
eight-year-old daughter left the vehicle before the accident. Kroll
briefly pursued her on foot, leaving the car in gear. The car
collided with a tree. Kroll then backed the car into a driveway and
was last seen stumbling away on foot.

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