October 6, 2003

Pet Tiger to Stay at Ohio Sanctuary

A pet tiger rescued from a Manhattan apartment after biting its owner will have a new home at an Ohio sanctuary with plenty of grass, trees and birds.

An alligator also recovered from the apartment was to be sent to an Indiana preserve, while their owner recovered from wounds from the 400-pound cat.

Antoine Yates, 31, was released from a hospital Monday night in Philadelphia, where he fled. New York City police took him into cusody to face reckless endangerment charges.

Yates had told Philadelphia TV station KYW in a phone interview from his hospital bed that the tiger grabbed him and "tore open my whole leg down to the bone."

A veterinarian examined the tiger Monday at Noah's Lost Ark preserve in Berlin Center, Ohio, 15 miles west of Youngstown. The licensed facility takes abused and neglected exotic animals and warns that wild animals can't be tamed.

"We should just stop letting people buy them," preserve director Ellen Whitehouse said. "We shouldn't be breeding them in the United States."

A team of animal control officers, police and Bronx Zoo workers used a camera to track the animals in Yates' fifth-floor apartment in a Harlem housing project before tranquilizing and removing them Saturday.

Wes Artope, director of the city's animal shelters, said the tiger, an orange and white Siberian-Bengal mix, had been kept in the apartment since he was a 6-week-old cub. The 20-month-old tiger now weighs at least 425 pounds, Artope said.

The tiger and 5-foot alligator, both in good condition, were taken first to a local shelter, then to a Long Island animal sanctuary before authorities sought homes.

"Clearly this tiger should not have been in any place in New York City outside of a zoo," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Sunday.

Yates was taken into custody Saturday night at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, police said. Yates told the TV station he was "trying to create a Garden of Eden, something that this world lacks."


On the Net: