AR-News: Tiger Kills Boy

David DeWitt ddewitt at
Tue Dec 16 11:30:41 EST 2003


Tiger Kills Boy, Highlights Problem with Dangerous Exotic Animal Ownership

December 16, 2003

Contact: Nicole Paquette, Legal/Government Affairs Director: 916/447-3085 

Sacramento – In light of the tragic news story of the North Carolina boy 
killed by his aunt’s tiger, the Animal Protection Institute (API) calls for 
attention to the inherent dangers associated with keeping wild animals and 
urges North Carolina state lawmakers to prohibit the private possession of 
dangerous exotic animals as “pets”.

10-year-old Clayton James Eller was fatally mauled by the 400-pound Bengal 
tiger as he was shoveling snow Sunday near the tiger's cage at his aunt’s 
Millers Creek home.

API has long advocated against the private possession of dangerous exotic 
animals, for the very reason this incident illustrates.  Non-domesticated 
felines such as lions, tigers, leopards, and cougars are commonly kept as 
“pets.” These exotic animals may seem cute and cuddly when they are young, 
but as they mature, they have the potential to seriously injure or kill 
people and other animals. Even an animal that appears to be friendly and 
loving can attack. This incident, like hundreds of others reported around 
the country, could have been avoided if a wild animal had not been kept 

Exotic cats belong in their natural habitat. They do not deserve to be kept 
in a captive environment, spending their days confined to a small 
enclosure, unable to exhibit their natural instincts.

“This incident demonstrates that wild animals, even those kept as “pets”, 
are unpredictable and can prove to be dangerous,” says API’s Director of 
Legal and Government Affairs Nicole Paquette.  “It’s impossible to totally 
eliminate the ‘wild’ from wild animals, and considering many of these 
animals weigh hundreds of pounds, it’s playing with fire,” she 
says.  Paquette adds that these incidents should send a message that no one 
is safe, and that state lawmakers should enact a ban on the private 
possession of these animals, before another child is killed. North Carolina 
currently has no laws safeguarding the public from dangerous exotic pets.

Concerned individuals must work with state and local governments to ensure 
the well-being of these animals and to protect communities from the safety 
and health risks these animals pose when in the hands of private 
individuals. API has provided guidance in introducing state bills and city 
ordinances across the country, and can assist North Carolina lawmakers with 
efforts to regulate the private possession of exotic animals within their 

The Animal Protection Institute has an extensive list of incidents 
involving wild animals in captivity, including dangerous exotic animals in 
private possession.  For more information on API’s exotic “pet” campaign, 
visit: <>

The Animal Protection Institute is a national non-profit animal advocacy 
organization with 80,000 members, working to end animal cruelty and 
exploitation through legislation, litigation, and public education.  API 
also operates a 186-acre primate sanctuary near San Antonio, Texas that is 
home to over 400 rescued and retired snow monkeys, baboons, and 
vervets.  For more information about API, API’s Primate Sanctuary, and the 
organization’s mission, campaigns and activities, please visit: 


David DeWitt
Communications Coordinator
Animal Protection Institute
P.O.Box 22505
Sacramento, CA  95822
(916)447-3085 x223
(916)447-3070 FAX

"We can judge the heart of man by his treatment of animals." -- Immanuel Kant
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