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NC: Surry County Teen-ager seriously injured in tiger attack
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Todd
2004-01-26 11:40:28 UTC
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Sunday, January 25, 2004
Surry County teen-ager seriously injured in tiger attack
By Sherry Wilson Youngquist
JOURNAL REPORTER

A 14-year-old Surry County girl was mauled by a tiger and seriously
injured less than two months after a tiger killed a10-year-old boy at
his uncle's ho me 40 miles away in Wilkes County. The teen-ager was
inside a pen taking photographs of a 200-pound tiger owned by her
father when the cat attacked her, authorities said. The girl, whose
name was not released because of medical-confidentiality laws, was
first tak en to Northern Hospital of Surry County by her father, then
transferred to Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center.

Authorities would not release her condition or details about her
injuries, only saying that her condition was serious. Sheriff Connie
Watson did not re turn phone calls. The attack happened about 9:15
a.m. near the family's mobile home on Palmer Road in the Lowgap
community in northwestern Surry County, authorities said. "There were
four tigers. She was inside a pen with one of them," said John
Shelton, the director of emergency services in Surry County. "Three of
the tigers were shot by the owners, and one was shot by animal
control."

The Surry County Sheriff's Office and animal control are investigating
and refused to name the family. A man who came to the door at the
residence decl ined to be interviewed. Deputies later were summoned to
the area when a man threatened a television crew with a shotgun. Buddy
Shackelford, who lives next door, said that the girl's father has been
dealing in exotic animals, including monkeys and a zebra, for some
time. One tiger had been on the property for about three years, and
the other three tigers had been there for about seven months.

"For myself, I wouldn't have them. You couldn't have given them to me.
But I didn't object to him having them," Shackelford said. "It
wouldn't harm the neighborhood in any way. He had them contained and
all that. They've never caused any trouble. They won't cause anyone
any trouble now." Shackelford said he heard the attack yesterday and
ran next door to see if he could help. Neighbors, he said, feel bad
for the family. "It was just a freak accident," he said.

In December, C.J. Eller, 10, was killed by a 400-pound tiger in the
Wilkes County community of Millers Creek as the boy shoveled snow near
the animal's cage. The tiger pulled him inside and mauled him to
death. The incident has prompted Wilkes County officials to consider
strictly regulating or banning tigers, lions, bears and other exotic
animals.

There is no statewide law about ownership of tigers or other animals
not native to the state, and county and local governments set the only
existing regulations. The majority of counties in Northwest North
Carolina do not have an ordinance about exotic animals. Federal law
regulates owners of exotic animals only if they breed, sell, exhibit
or transport the animals. Nationwide, 19 states prohibit owning big
cats and other dangerous exotic animals. An additional 18 states
require permits or have a partial ban.

The Humane Society of the United States estimates that 5,000 to 7,000
tigers are privately owned in the country. The number of tigers in the
wild worldwide is estimated at 5,000. After the fatal mauling in
Wilkes County, members of the Surry County Board of Commissioners
began pushing for an ordinance that would ban exotic animals. A
discussion had been scheduled for the board's next meeting Feb. 2, but
some county officials said after the incident yesterday that they
should have moved faster.

"I regret that we didn't adopt this ordinance sooner," said
Commissioner Jimmy Miller, the chairman of the board. "They're wild
animals, and nobody c an handle them. We can't handle them, and the
people who own them can't handle them. Then nobody should have them."
Two weeks ago, the Davidson County Board of Commissioners approved
reviving a moratorium on most exotic animals being brought into the
county. Forsyth County bans ownership of wild animals.

Sherry Wilson Youngquist can be reached in Mount Airyat (336) 789-
9338 or at ***@wsjournal.com
Ian Gibbons
2004-01-27 00:07:29 UTC
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Post by Todd
Shelton, the director of emergency services in Surry County. "Three of
the tigers were shot by the owners, and one was shot by animal
control."
Grr!
Just typical.. human stupidity has AGAIN cost the lives of not one, but
FOUR innocent animals.
What will it take to drill into society that meddling with predatory
animals is just not acceptable?

Regards,
Ian
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John
2004-01-28 21:30:28 UTC
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On Tue, 27 Jan 2004 00:07:29 -0000, "Ian Gibbons"
Post by Ian Gibbons
Post by Todd
Shelton, the director of emergency services in Surry County. "Three of
the tigers were shot by the owners, and one was shot by animal
control."
Grr!
Just typical.. human stupidity has AGAIN cost the lives of not one, but
FOUR innocent animals.
What will it take to drill into society that meddling with predatory
animals is just not acceptable?
Regards,
Ian
I agree with ya mate. I don't know why the people who owned the
Tigers can't be killed for neglect? In my opinion they are the ones
who were irresponsible and any death is a result of their
carelessness. There are 6.5 Billion of us, why don't we get rid of
the stupid ones? There's only thousands of tigers in some subspecies
right down to 10's in others. They shouldn't be kept as pets. I'm
not so sure they should really be kept in Zoos either as a lot of
enclosures are just not big enough for them. I suppose at least it
could help prevent a lot of them becoming extinct if their habitats
keep getting destroyed.

John
Dave
2004-02-10 21:57:41 UTC
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Folks,

In hopes to put some perspective on this entire situation -
it's not the fact that people keep tigers and other large
carnivorous cats in captivity as pets - it's the fact that not
all those who do are fully qualified to care for the cats,
and those are the people who should obtain training
and experience in keeping them as pets in captivity
if they are to do so, or not keep them.

There are many who are trying to convince the entire
populous of nations such as the UK and the United States
that "Only those who work at zoos and other professional
facilities have the know how to care for large wild/exotic
felines".

That would be like saying that only someone who is a
professional dog trainer can teach a dog tricks, or care
for a dog properly. I'm sure readers of this have pets,
or have had at one time. I'm sure some of you who have
had pets are not what can be classified as a professional.

My point is that with the proper training and experience
anyone can learn to care for a tiger / lion / cheetah /
leopard / you-name-it properly.

The term professional is defined as one who earns his/her
living from their labor. Pet owners do not.

I'm not going into the philosophy of whether or not animals
should be pets. All I'll say on that is why not? If they are
cared for properly, properly housed and fed, given love and
affection - proper veterinary care etc, why not keep them?

As for the space requirements - let me state this. Animals
that have a small prey density per square kilometer / mile must
travel over larger distances to obtain the prey needed to
eat, and also find a mate. Animals that have a large prey
density per square kilometer / mile will not travel as far because
all of what they need is contained in a smaller area. That's
been proven, whether you are talking about a bird of prey
or a large carnivorous felid like a tiger. If a tiger can find
all they need to survive in say 3 acres of land (food, water and
a suitable mate), that animals home range will be 3 acres.

I've worked for years around captive exotic big cats. Most
have had enclosures of .5 to 2 acres in size. All of them have
been happy, satisfied and healthy. None of them have ever
pined away to get out of their enclosure. If an escape happens
I've seen animals get out, become confused and frightened and
bolt back to the security of their enclosure where they feel
safe, as they are on their turf again.

I hate to hear about the mistakes made by idiots as much as
the next person, and I'm just as appalled by the incident where
the girl got hurt. But that was not the tigers fault, and certainly
the owner of the animals should not have put any of them down.

There is much speculation that he did so to cover for his own
stupidity. The young, inexperienced and/or untrained just don't
belong inside a tigers enclosure. Small children have no place
near a big cat - period. Any good handler would agree with me.

Before you go condemning everyone who keeps them in captivity,
please look at the people, private owners, doing a good job at
keeping them properly. Check out the Yahoo E-group
Phoenix Exotics. Don't paint all owners with the same color
of paint. There are many out there who care for them well, and
keep them in very good health.

Some may also ask "why would anyone want a tiger as a pet?".

Until you have worked around a tiger, and have seen the level of
affection they show for their keepers and have had them show that
love for you, you just won't understand. It's not a macho thing, or
a fad thing or what-have-you for most people. It's caring for an
animal that means a great deal to you, at least it is for me.

For the record I don't own any exotic cats, but as I said I have
worked around them for some time. It's a unique bond that has
to be experienced to be understood - it's stronger then the bond
one has with a domestic cat. I'm not saying the bond between a
domestic cat and his owner is less important then between exotic
cat and owner. But the bond between exotic cat and owner is
much more intense.

Dave

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