USDA Finds Zoo Owner Did Not Violate Law in Euthanizing Bengal Tiger

Higginbotham says he euthanized the tiger after it had become too aggressive.

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A complaint against Joe Higginbotham, who operates Kids Country Zoo in Foley, Al., was filed with the U.S. Department of Agriculture animal welfare officials after Higginbotham euthanized a 2-year-old Bengal Siberian-cross tiger last week. He later gave the tiger to a taxidermist to be stuffed and put on display at the zoo, reports The Associated Press.

The complaint was filed by Valori Russell, who works for Tiger Haven in Kingston, Tenn. She says that Higginbotham killed the tiger despite assurances that another home could be found, The Associated Press reports.

However, Higginbotham did not have enough time to move the tiger to another home, according to the report. He says the tiger had become too aggressive. After trying to sedate the animal with a tranquilizer dart, Higginbotham returned and found the tiger trying to get out of its cage. Higginbotham then administered the lethal injection.

USDA spokesman Darby Holladay says Higginbotham did not violate the U.S. Animal Welfare Act or the guidelines of the American Veterinary Medical Association on performing humane euthanasia, according to the Associated Press.

Posted: Dec. 15, 2005, 3p.m. EST

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