- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 11, 2003

JACKSON, N.J. (AP) — Animal-welfare workers were rounding up 24 Bengal tigers from a private sanctuary early yesterday, culminating a battle that began after a 430-pound tiger was found roaming the suburbs.

New Jersey officials got a court order to remove the animals after it determined that they were being poorly cared for at the 12-acre Tigers Only Preservation Society, which is owned by Joan Byron-Marasek. The tigers were being transferred to a Texas animal shelter.

The saga began in January 1999, when authorities shot and killed a loose tiger wandering around a residential subdivision near Miss Byron-Marasek’s property. Authorities had tried unsuccessfully to tranquilize it.

State officials never proved that the tiger belonged to Miss Byron-Marasek, known as “The Tiger Lady,” but they criticized conditions at her facility and refused to renew her permit to keep the animals.

After a lengthy court battle, her appeals were exhausted in November 2002, and a judge authorized a plan to move the animals to the Texas sanctuary.

The first of four large tractor-trailers entered the compound around 6:30 a.m. yesterday, and crews worked to lure the tigers into individual cages.

Chris Cutter, a spokesman for the International Fund for Animal Welfare, said he did not expect much difficulty in getting the tigers to enter the transfer cages from the pen where they were being held.

“They’re pretty anxious to get out,” said Mr. Cutter, whose group is assisting with the move.

Animal-welfare officers injected the most aggressive tiger with a tranquilizer dart and might do the same for three other tigers, Mr. Cutter said.

The truck convoy was expected to leave New Jersey last night for an 1,800-mile, 30-hour trip to the Wild Animal Orphanage in San Antonio. The tigers should be at their new home by tonight.

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