Oct. 6 — A Manhattan man living in public housing had been keeping a Bengal tiger since it was a cub -- and then it turned on him. NBC’s Ron Allen has an update on that and on the hidden world of exotic pets.
updated 10/6/2003 1:41:40 PM ET 2003-10-06T17:41:40

A pet tiger rescued from a Manhattan apartment after biting its owner will have a new home at an Ohio sanctuary with plenty of grass, trees and birds. An alligator also recovered from the apartment was to be sent to an Indiana preserve, while their owner recovered from wounds from the 400-pound cat.

POLICE SAID Antoine Yates, 31, faces reckless endangerment charges after he gets out of a hospital in Philadelphia, where he fled. He was listed in good condition Sunday.

Yates told Philadelphia TV station KYW in a phone interview from his hospital bed that the tiger grabbed him and “tore open my whole leg down to the bone.”

A veterinarian was to examine the tiger Monday at Noah’s Lost Ark preserve in Berlin Center, Ohio, 15 miles west of Youngstown. The licensed facility takes abused and neglected exotic animals and warns that wild animals can’t be tamed.

“We should just stop letting people buy them,” preserve director Ellen Whitehouse said. “We shouldn’t be breeding them in the United States.”

GARDEN OF EDEN?

A team of animal control officers, police and Bronx Zoo workers used a camera to track the animals in Yates’ fifth-floor apartment in a Harlem housing project before tranquilizing and removing them Saturday.

Wes Artope, director of the city’s animal shelters, said the tiger, an orange and white Siberian-Bengal mix, had been kept in the apartment since he was a 6-week-old cub. The 20-month-old tiger now weighs at least 425 pounds, Artope said.

The tiger and 5-foot alligator, both in good condition, were taken first to a local shelter, then to a Long Island animal sanctuary before authorities sought homes.

“Clearly this tiger should not have been in any place in New York City outside of a zoo,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Sunday.

Yates was taken into custody Saturday night at the University of Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia, police said. Yates told the TV station he was “trying to create a Garden of Eden, something that this world lacks.”

© 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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