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<a href="http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-tigers24apr241,1,5054257.story?coll=la-home-leftrail" target="_blank">http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la...ome%2Dleftrail</a><br><br><br><br>
Survivor: <a href="http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-tiger_hdtq42kf.jpg,1,7487316.photo?coll=la-home-leftrail" target="_blank">http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la...ome%2Dleftrail</a><br><br><br><br><b>At Rescuer's Home, 90 Tigers Found Dead</b><br><br><i>Sick animals, hides also discovered. Riverside County shelter's owner, two others are arrested.</i><br><br>
By Akilah Johnson and Steve Hymon<br><br>
Times Staff Writers<br><br><br><br>
April 24, 2003<br><br>
GLEN AVON, Calif. -- More than 90 dead tigers, including 58 cubs stuffed into freezers, were discovered at the Riverside County home of a noted animal rescuer by authorities who also uncovered a menagerie of malnourished animals roaming the property.<br><br><br><br>
Officials who carried out the Tuesday morning raid were looking for a single juvenile tiger. Instead, they came across 11 tiger and leopard cubs crawling around the home's attic, two small alligators swimming in the bathtub and two hungry tigers on the porch. Behind a gate in the yard, authorities said, they found 30 dead adult tigers, some with their legs tied together.<br><br><br><br>
"The worst of it was that everywhere you went on the property, there were dead animals," said Chuck Traisi, who took the live animals to his rescue facility in San Diego County. "Everyone was in a state of disbelief. There were cats that had long been dead and in various states of decay strewn everywhere."<br><br><br><br>
A pickup truck in the yard was filled with animal skins, said Ralph Rivers, a spokesman for the Riverside County Animal Services Department.<br><br><br><br>
Sheriff's deputies arrested John Weinhart, 60, who runs a well-known animal sanctuary called Tiger Rescue in nearby Colton. But authorities said they are baffled about why Weinhart kept the dead animals.<br><br><br><br>
The Tiger Rescue facility serves as a home for tigers retired from the circus and entertainment industry and has long been a popular weekend destination for families who for a small fee can see the felines.<br><br><br><br>
But in November, the state Department of Fish and Game raided the Tiger Rescue headquarters. San Bernardino County prosecutors charged Weinhart with unlawful public display of tigers, breeding animals without a permit, failure to clean animal cages, and supplying the animals with insufficient food and water. He pleaded not guilty to those charges and will face trial in late May.<br><br><br><br>
The latest raid occurred a few miles away at Weinhart's home near the community of Glen Avon. Also arrested Tuesday was Weinhart's friend Marla Smith. Both were charged with one count of child endangerment because the couple's 8-year-old son lived among the animals, said Paul Dickerson, a Riverside County deputy district attorney. The boy was turned over to the county's social services department.<br><br><br><br>
Prosecutors said they are deciding what charges involving the animals might be appropriate.<br><br><br><br>
Wendelin Rae Ringel, a veterinarian who worked for Weinhart, also was arrested and charged with animal cruelty.<br><br><br><br>
Steve Jeffries, a spokesman for Tiger Rescue, strongly denied that Weinhart or the other suspects did anything to harm the animals.<br><br><br><br>
The live cubs were placed at Weinhart's five-acre property because they required hand-feeding every four hours, Jeffries said, adding that the alligators were personal pets.<br><br><br><br>
He said the couple's child wasn't in danger. "I've known that kid since he was in diapers and he's always seemed healthy to me," Jeffries said. "I have a 4-year-old daughter and my daughter has been around the [cubs] since she was basically born."<br><br><br><br>
Jeffries also disputed allegations by authorities that they discovered 100 dead animals at Weinhart's home. He said that there were well fewer than 30 corpses, and that most of the animals had been dead for at least five years. He said he did not know why the dead animals were on the property or how they got there.<br><br><br><br>
When asked about the 58 dead cubs in freezers, Jeffries replied: "We keep them for research reasons."<br><br><br><br>
Weinhart has operated his rescue operation for 30 years. Tiger Rescue started at his Glen Avon home, but a zoning change in the 1990s barred him from keeping tigers there, and the sanctuary was moved to Colton. Keeping a wild animal requires a permit from the state Department of Fish and Game, and local zoning must allow it.<br><br><br><br>
Weinhart's home is surrounded by a tall chain-link and plywood fence and backs up to a drainage ditch. A large stucco archway stands at the entrance and is topped by iron figurines of lions. The smell of feces was strong outside the home Wednesday, where several junked cars sat.<br><br><br><br>
Officials said they were still trying to determine why so many dead animals were on the property.<br><br><br><br>
"We may or may not end up with a conclusion about these things," said Mike McBride, assistant chief at the state Department of Fish and Game.<br><br><br><br>
Authorities said they raided Weinhart's home in search of a single tiger that they could not locate during earlier searches of the Tiger Rescue facility. They had received an anonymous tip that the tiger was at his house.<br><br><br><br>
Tippi Hedren, the former movie actress who runs a wildlife sanctuary in Acton, said she visited Tiger Rescue a few years ago when it was still in Glen Avon. She said she was "disgusted" by its filthy conditions. The animals lived in their own waste, she said, and did not have enough to drink because the only water was in upside-down trash lids. Hedren said she called the U.S. Department of Agriculture to complain but does not know whether any action was taken.<br><br><br><br>
"I wish I could get inside his head," Hedren said. "In my wildest imagination I cannot understand how anyone could do this."<br><br><br><br>
The average tiger has four to six cubs per litter, said Dr. Jennifer Conrad, an exotic-animal veterinarian. "Unless [the deaths happened] over the last 15 years ... 58 is a huge number of animals, especially cubs," she said.<br><br><br><br>
A contagious virus, such as canine distemper, could spread through a facility and cause such a high number of deaths, Conrad said.<br><br><br><br>
Wayne Pacelle, vice president of the Humane Society of the United States, said there has been an increase in the number of tigers being raised for the exotic pet trade under the guise of a rescue facility.<br><br><br><br>
"We call them pseudo-sanctuaries," he said. "They're primarily engaged in commercial activities while passing themselves off as a nonprofit."<br><br><br><br>
Neighbors in Glen Avon said Wednesday that they had come to accept Weinhart's compound as part of the community.<br><br><br><br>
Josephine Franco-Mercado, 51, who has lived next door to Weinhart since 1987, said her daughter tape-recorded the tigers snoring before leaving for college in case she missed home.<br><br><br><br>
------------------------------------------------------------------------<br><br><br><br>
Copyright 2003 Los Angeles Times
 

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that's disgusting.<br><br><br><br>
and raising a kid among all that.<br><br><br><br>
I'm hope they put an end to it.
 

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I am not sure, but I think these people asked me for money. Part of the reason why I am scared to give some of these shelters money. You don't know which ones are quality.
 

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<div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block"><i>Originally posted by Thalia</i><br><br><b>I am not sure, but I think these people asked me for money. Part of the reason why I am scared to give some of these shelters money. You don't know which ones are quality.</b></div>
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That's why I only donate money to shelters I know are good. I donate to the local humane society. I volunteer there regularly, so I know what's going on. I also donated to the ASPCA in NY after 9/11 to help them with their animal rescue and housing costs.<br><br><br><br>
If I had more money, I'd donate to a couple of other places but unfortunately I have yet to win the lottery.
 

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<div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block"><i>Originally posted by muppetcow</i><br><br><b>If I had more money, I'd donate to a couple of other places but unfortunately I have yet to win the lottery.</b></div>
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I know how you feel. I dream of winning the lottery so I can help animals more.
 

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Sick.<br><br><br><br>
It looks like that report was from over a year ago. Was there ever any follow-up story reported?
 

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<div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>qetta</strong> <a href="/forum/post/0"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style=""></a><br><br>
Sick.<br><br><br><br>
It looks like that report was from over a year ago. Was there ever any follow-up story reported?</div>
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Followup:<br><br><br><br>
Most if not all of the tigers have finally been placed elsewhere thanks to The Fund For Animals.<br><br><br><br><a href="http://www.fund.org/library/documentViewer.asp?ID=1352" target="_blank">http://www.fund.org/library/documentViewer.asp?ID=1352</a><br><br><br><br>
More info:<br><br><br><br><a href="http://www.petabuse.com/action/tigers.php" target="_blank">http://www.petabuse.com/action/tigers.php</a><br><br><br><br><a href="http://www.savethetigers.com/" target="_blank">http://www.savethetigers.com/</a><br><br><br><br>
If you would like to donate to a worthy animal sanctuary go here:<br><br><br><br><a href="http://www.taosanctuaries.org/index02.htm" target="_blank">http://www.taosanctuaries.org/index02.htm</a><br><br><br><br>
Check out charities here before donating:<br><br><br><br><a href="http://www.charitynavigator.org/" target="_blank">http://www.charitynavigator.org/</a>
 

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Thanks for all those posts, bizarro!<br><br><br><br>
From the Fund for Animals website regarding this case: "We went on to raise $250,000 to build a safe, expansive habitat for these remaining big cats. The Performing Animal Welfare Society(PAWS) in northern California luckily came on board and is currently building a ten-acre tiger habitat, with dens, trees, and swimming pools, from the money we raised. The 39 tigers will be moved to PAWS in May 2004 where they will receive lifelong care in a safe environment, never to be bred, exhibited, exploited, or harmed again."
 

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<div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>qetta</strong> <a href="/forum/post/0"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style=""></a><br><br>
Thanks for all those posts, bizarro!</div>
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You are welcome! We have been following this closely, this is pertty despicable.<br><br>
I started a thread about this back in May but nobody replied. I think the news forum is just more popular than the welfare forum.<br><br><br><br>
The animals were having difficulty being placed because many are inbred and cross bred making them undesireable for most zoos and other facilities. Zoos want to know if they are displaying an animal as a Siberian Tiger that they are a true Siberian Tiger. I'm not a supporter of zoos but that would be better for these animals then where they were. Not to mention the care takers and the risks they took to help them.
 

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Thought some of you would like to view some pictures!<br><br><br><br>
Here you can see a group of 8 being moved to their new 10-acre home at PAWS. You can also see some of the volueenteers helping out. What a great group of people!<br><br><br><br><a href="http://www.fund.org/library/documentviewer.asp?ID=1485" target="_blank">http://www.fund.org/library/documentviewer.asp?ID=1485</a>
 

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Wow. They are such beautiful creatures. Breaks my heart that anyone could intentionally do them harm. The Fund for Animals sounds like a great organization.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
I want to see them <i>at</i> PAWS!<br><br><br><br>
Thanks for the link, tho. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/images/smilies/smiley.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title=":)">
 

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How truly sad! <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/images/smilies/bigcry.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title=":cry:"> I am very glad to hear that the tigers are somewhere safe. What kind of animal lover keeps dead cubs in the freezer for research? What is this world coming to!?
 

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Here's another page at the Fund for Animals that gives tips for identifying "pseudo-sanctuaries":<br><br><a href="http://www.fund.org/library/documentViewer.asp?ID=1361" target="_blank">http://www.fund.org/library/documentViewer.asp?ID=1361</a><br><br><br><br>
sad, sad, sad! <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/images/smilies/bigcry.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title=":cry:">
 

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<div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>catgirl67</strong> <a href="/forum/post/0"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style=""></a><br><br>
How truly sad! <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/images/smilies/bigcry.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title=":cry:"> I am very glad to hear that the tigers are somewhere safe. What kind of animal lover keeps dead cubs in the freezer for research? What is this world coming to!?</div>
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dont forget about all the dead animals on his property also and the child he was raising amongst them. he was breeding them so he could make $ off people paying to have their pictures taken with cubs for a few bucks. for most of them, once the cubs got old enough to be a danger to patrons he forgot about them and just made more cubs. they did find cats skeletons with all their legs bound together.<br><br><br><br>
also, i dont think all the animals have been placed but all are being taken care of as much as possible by volueenteers. i know at least one was enuthanized. the cages they are in at the "sanctuary" are faling apart. this is very dangerous for the cats and volueenteers. these people are taking a big risk to help them. some of the cages are basically impossible to clean and its difficult just to get them fresh food and water.
 
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