24 Tigers Confiscated From New Jersey Home

Tuesday, 11 November, 2003
Yarmouth Port, MA
IFAW (The International Fund for Animal Welfare – www.ifaw.org) – working in conjunction with the Wild Animal Orphanage (WAO), the New Jersey Fish & Game and other state agencies – today confiscated 24 tigers from a private residence in Jackson Township, NJ. The tigers were safely removed from the property of Joan Byron-Marasek and relocated to the WAO near San Antonio, TX.
“There are only 5,000 tigers left in the wild but as many as 10,000 being kept as pets in basements and backyards across the U.S. and there are few, if any, legal safeguards to protect the animals or public safety,” said Sarah Tyack, director at IFAW. “If this can happen in suburban New Jersey, it can happen anywhere. Congress should pass the Captive Wildlife Safety Act immediately to begin to rein in this problem.”
“I commend the International Fund for Animal Welfare for its compassionate and charitable decision to relocate and provide permanent care for the 24 tigers that are being moved from Jackson Township to a sanctuary at the Wild Animal Orphanage in Texas, said Congressman Smith. “These animals will now be in an appropriate natural habitat for the rest of their lives.”
Byron-Marasek first gained the state of New Jersey’s attention in 1999 when authorities shot and killed a 430-pound Bengal tiger roaming loose in a residential area of Jackson Township, NJ. DNA tests linked the tiger to Byron-Marasek’s property. After the incident the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection inspected Byron-Marasek's property and cited several unsafe and unsanitary conditions. Byron-Marasek missed the deadlines to make the improvements and the state decided not to renew the Exotic Animal Permit she had held since 1977. In November 2002, after a four-year legal battle, a New Jersey judge ordered the tigers to be relocated to the WAO.
High profile tiger attacks on Roy Horn (of Siegfried and Roy) and a New York City man who was keeping a tiger in his apartment have highlighted the growing problem of keeping tigers as pets. Since 1990, captive tigers have killed 10 people and mauled 62 more. In the last 5 years there have been 125 incidents involving big cats (tigers, lions, cougars, leopards, cheetahs, and lion/tiger hybrids) including 87 deaths and injuries and 38 reports of animals escaping. IFAW is calling for the immediate passage of the Captive Wildlife Safety Act, which is pending in Congress. 

About The Wild Animal Orphanage (WAO)
Wild Animal Orphanage is a non-profit permanent sanctuary caring for a variety of unwanted, abused or neglected animals. The sanctuary provides quality lifetime care and housing to over 600 once unwanted, abused or neglected big cats, wolves, bears, primates (including chimpanzees), domestic cats, feral cats, birds and hoof stock. WAO is a division of the Animal Sanctuary of the United States and is recognized as an Animal Center of Excellence. WAO may be found on the web at www.wildanimalorphanage.org.

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