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Sunday, May 19, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Too Many Tigers Next Door!

KINGSTON, Tenn. (CN) - Four neighbors of Tiger Haven, a nonprofit rescue that houses more than 265 tigers, lions, leopards and other big cats, are fed up with the noise, odor, waste and water runoff, not to mention fear for their safety, they claim in court.

Everett Bloom, John Woody, Harold Pesterfield and Ronald Bean all own property near Tiger Haven, in Kingston. They sued Tiger Haven and its owner-operator Mary Lynn Haven aka Mary Lynn Parker, in Roane County Court. (The case has been transferred to Loudon County Court.)

The neighbors say in the 8-page lawsuit that Tennessee granted Tiger Haven a permit for one pet tiger in 1991.

Since then, Tiger Haven has expanded to house "more than 265 big cats, including tigers, lions, leopards, cougars and jaguar, as well as 11 lesser cats such as serval, caracal, bobcat, and lynx," according to the Tiger Haven website.

The neighbors point out in their lawsuit that "Tigers, lions, cougars, leopards, jaguars and all large cats and mixed breeds thereof are classified as inherently dangerous animals (carnivores) under Class 1 of the laws of the State of Tennessee."

The huge number of "big cats" at Tiger Haven has brought an "unacceptable noise level, odor, waste and water runoff from the Tiger Haven facility," the neighbors say.

They claim that having more than 250 wild cats nearby diminishes the quiet enjoyment of their property, hurts their in property and/or rental value, and affects their "ability to keep and maintain farm and/or domestic animals ... due to the reaction of plaintiffs' animals to the presence of the large cats, particularly when the cats roar, caterwaul or otherwise make their presence known."

They say the roars of the big cats can be heard "for miles."

According to Tiger Haven's website, checked this morning, the facility is operated much like an animal shelter for dogs and cats - small cats.

"The cats who come here for sanctuary are given a permanent home for life," the website states. "They are not sold or given away and Tiger Haven does not breed the cats or make them work for a living. The cats here truly enjoy the good life, and they deserve it!"

Tiger Haven may continue to expand, to provide "the good life" to big cats, the neighbors say.

They ask the court to enjoin Tiger Haven from "conducting their operation," and compensatory damages not to exceed $5 million.

They are represented by Michael S. Pemberton and James B. Scott of Pemberton Scott of Knoxville.

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