Josh Brage


Cnn.com – Mauled Tiger Owner Loses Fight Over Cat
August 8, 2006, 4:44 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

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Man kept 450-pound tiger, 6-foot alligator in apartment

Tuesday, August 8, 2006; Posted: 9:45 a.m. EDT (13:45 GMT)

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NEW YORK (Reuters) — The claims of a tiger owner who sued New York city and police for searching his apartment without a warrant to confiscate his pet 450-pound Siberian tiger are tantamount to “chutzpah,” a federal judge said in a ruling obtained Monday that dismissed the case.

U.S. District Judge Sidney Stein dismissed a lawsuit brought by Antoine Yates, whom authorities discovered in 2003 was hiding a 10-foot-long tiger named “Ming” and a 6-foot alligator called “Al” inside his fifth floor apartment.

Yates, who was mauled and hospitalized by the tiger he had raised since it was a cub, claimed his constitutional rights had been violated by police searches.

Ming was eventually shipped to an animal refuge in Ohio but Yates has said he hoped to get the tiger back and open his own animal sanctuary in upstate New York.

Yates was sentenced to five months in prison for reckless endangerment in 2004, the same year he brought the charges against the city.

Stein said that while “the word chutzpah” — a Yiddish term meaning unbelievable gall or audacity — was now “vastly overused” in the legal world, in the case brought by Yates “it is a most appropriate term to use”.

A lawyer for Yates did not return a phone call seeking comment.

Police learned Yates had been keeping the wild animals as pets after an anonymous tip led them to find Yates inside his apartment, “screaming and crying in pain” from wounds including a gash below one knee that exposed the bone, the ruling said.

Although Yates then told officers he had been bitten by a pit bull dog, a neighbor said Yates had shown a full-grown tiger to her daughter and that large amounts of urine had fallen below into her apartment, the ruling said.

Yates later told police he had purchased Ming from a woman in Minnesota for $3,500 and had raised Al the alligator for eight years since it was a hatchling.

When Yates returned to his apartment a week after the mauling, he claimed missing items included $7,000 in cash, $30,000 in jewelry and a brown, three-to-four pound pet rabbit.

“The whereabouts of the rabbit have not been ascertained, but there is no indication in the record that Al the alligator was questioned in that regard,” the judge noted. “The court suggests he may be more knowledgeable on this issue than he disgorged to date.”

Copyright 2006 Reuters. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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