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For Immediate Release: 12/29/06

Group demands USDA closure of notorious tiger facility

Evidence and complaints continue to mount against Siberian Tiger Conservation Association

Knox County, OH — In a letter to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) the Animal Protection Institute (API), a national animal advocacy organization, today demanded immediate and aggressive enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act against the Siberian Tiger Conservation Association (STCA). The facility, which advertises “train with tigers” programs, is operating in violation of federal law by allowing people direct contact with dangerous animals despite its license being revoked more than five years ago.

API documented violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act by the STCA in a 2005 investigation and filed a formal complaint with the USDA in March 2006. The violations documented by API were also duplicated by an ABC News crew, which featured an investigation of the STCA on a recent episode of the ABC news show, 20/20. The USDA has yet to take any action against the STCA.

“The fact that this facility is still in existence is appalling,” says Nicole Paquette , Esq., Director of Legal and Government Affairs for API. “For years, the STCA has operated outside the law, basically thumbing its nose at officials. The fact that, as of this date, the STCA is still advertising direct contact with tigers on its web site shows how little respect this facility has for the law, animal welfare and public safety.”

During its 2005 investigation, an API investigator was attacked by a tiger; an incident caught on tape and submitted to the USDA. This isn’t the first attack documented at the facility — there have been at least 10 reported instances of attacks on both children and adults.

“How much more evidence does the USDA need to shut this facility down?” asks Paquette. “The USDA needs to act immediately and aggressively to end dangerous direct contact with tigers at this facility before more people are injured or even killed. It’s high time that the USDA adopts a policy against direct contact with dangerous animals, period.”

In the last nine months, API has filed complaints with the USDA regarding Animal Welfare Act violations at five Ohio facilities. API is also working with Rep. George Distel on legislation regulating the private possession of exotic animals such as wolves, cougars, tigers, bears, primates, and dangerous reptiles. Ohio is one of only 11 states that allow unregulated possession of dangerous exotic and wild animals.

API works to end animal cruelty and exploitation through legislation, litigation, and public education. API is a nationally recognized leader on exotic animal legislation and assists states in drafting and passing legislation. For more information, visit www.api4animals.org.

B-roll footage and still photos from API’s investigation are available upon request.

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Contact:
Zibby Wilder, Animal Protection Institute, 916-447-3085 x205

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