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Escaped Tiger Shot Dead

THE NATION

A Florida wildlife officer kills the animal after it lunged at him. Bobo belonged to a B movie actor who once played Tarzan.

July 14, 2004|From Associated Press

LOXAHATCHEE, Fla. — A tiger that escaped from the home of a movie actor who once played Tarzan was shot to death Tuesday after it lunged at a state wildlife officer who was trying to capture it.

Officers approached the tiger, intending to shoot it with tranquilizers. But the tiger jumped at one officer, who fired a shotgun in self-defense, said Jorge Pino, a spokesman with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

A dozen wildlife trackers and sheriff's deputies had searched more than 24 hours for the animal, which escaped Monday. They had kept watch Tuesday in a five-acre area of dense slash pines and palm trees, hoping to catch the 6-year-old tiger named Bobo.

His owner, Steve Sipek, developed a soft spot for jungle beasts after playing Tarzan in B movies decades ago. Sipek has another tiger, a panther, a cougar and lions on his South Florida compound about 10 miles from West Palm Beach.

Sipek told reporters he doubted Bobo had to be killed.

"They murdered a poor helpless animal that only looked ferocious, as any tiger would," he said. "But Bobo had a heart of gold."

Some nearby residents, who moved to the rural area so they could have room for their own pets, were less sympathetic.

"What I want to know is when he was in captivity, how long did he go without a feeding?" asked Kim Smith, who has horses and dogs that she normally keeps outside.

Wildlife officials had said they did not believe the declawed pet would attack, even though he bit a woman working inside his cage two years ago.

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