Newsflash, NJ is not the Tiger Lady capital of the world
Oh thank goodness it’s not just New Jersey. The Jersey Shore TV reality show, The Soprano’s and a host of other shows have tried very hard to pigeon hole the residents of the magnificent Garden State. Now, at least, we have learned the “Tiger Lady of Jackson” is not just a Jersey thang.
A documentary film, “The Elephant In The Living Room,” by Michael Webber takes a look at the bizarre big cat hoarding subculture. The film estimates that there are over 15,000 big cats kept as pets in the USA. OMD (Oh My Dog). Can you imagine? No wonder illegal animal smuggling is such big business.
Who knew? Luckily places like the Popcorn Park Zoo take in animals like these and give them a wonderful place to live out their lives. The Zoo is funded entirely by donations.
The story from the DailyRecord.com: ‘Elephant in the Living Room’ a jaw-dropping documentary about exotic pets
You might remember the “Tiger Lady of Jackson” who kept 24 Bengal tigers in her backyard. Joan Byron-Marasek legally operated the Tigers Only Preservation Society, a supposed sanctuary for the animals. In 1999, a Bengal tiger got loose from somewhere, freaked out the neighbors, and was shot and killed by authorities.
Byron-Marasek denied the tiger was one of hers, theorizing that it might’ve come from nearby Six Flags Great Adventure. But state wildlife officials didn’t buy that theory, found her tigers in deplorable conditions, and did not renew her permit to run Tigers Only.
In 2003, the animals were transferred to a new home at the Wild Animal Orphanage in San Antonio, Texas, with New Jersey chipping in $120,000 for moving costs.
It was a sad, weird saga. And it was far from unique. Turns out, it’s not just a Jersey thing to hoard jungle predators. There are Tiger Ladies from coast to coast, as well as people who prefer lions, vipers and bears. Oh, my.
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