Wild party planned; mice on the menu

Wild party planned; mice on the menu

Staff WriterNovember 4, 2005 

Elwood, Mary Stewart, Disney, Isabella and Romeo are hosting a party Saturday.

On the menu will be whole raw chickens, rats, mice, bananas and maybe some cubes of raw beef.

After all, that's what these big cats like to eat.

The Carnivore Preservation Trust, a nonprofit wildlife sanctuary, is hosting its second annual fall festival from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Pam Fulk, executive director, said the event helps teach the community about the animals, including Elwood the jaguar, Mary Stewart the caracal, Disney the binturong and Isabella and Romeo, tigers that live on the 55-acre sanctuary.

Most of the 108 animals there started out as house pets, Fulk said. They eventually were rescued because they were being abused or neglected or their owners realized the animals were not meant to live with people.

Romeo, 10 years old and the biggest tiger at the sanctuary, was rescued after his owner went to a veterinarian to have him declawed.

The veterinarian asked the owner where he got the tiger.

It is illegal to import endangered animals into the United States, and the owner could not produce papers proving he bought the tiger in this country, Fulk said. So Romeo was confiscated and taken to the sanctuary.

Fulk finds it ironic that the owner was trying to declaw Romeo. The cat grew to between 600 and 700 pounds and could have killed his owner even without claws.

"A lot of these people just don't understand what they are getting into," Fulk said as she stood in front of Romeo's cage, which is the size of a large back yard.

"Even if you hand-raise them, they will never be tame," she said. "They will be socialized but never tame."

Staff writer Leah Friedman can be reached at 933-2002 or leah.friedman@newsobserver.com.

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