KINGSTON, Tenn. (CN) - It started with one pet tiger, but now a woman has more than 250 tigers, lions and other big cats on her property, whose roars can be heard for miles, and whose failure to use kitty litter contaminates the environment, irate neighbors say in court.
Lead plaintiff Everett Bloom and four married couples sued Tiger Haven and Mary Lynn Haven aka Mary Lynn Parker, in Roane County Court. Tiger Haven is a nonprofit corporation in Kingston, where all the parties to the case live.
The neighbors say Haven got a state permit to keep one Class I animal, a pet tiger, in 1991. However, they say, Haven and Tiger Haven "have substantially increased the number of Class I animals on their property now believed to be in excess of two hundred and fifty (250). As a result, Tiger Haven's operation has escalated into a commercial existence and is currently housing two hundred and fifty (250) to three hundred (300) large class I wildlife cats.
"The substantial increase in the number of class I animals in the possession of the defendants Tiger Haven and Mary Lynn Haven have caused an ongoing increase in noise level, odor, waste and water runoff from a point source that includes but is not limited to urine, feces, bacteria and other contaminates, all of which threaten the life and property of the plaintiffs and the environment as a whole."
The neighbors say the deluge of big cats "created a nuisance that has destroyed the quiet enjoyment of the plaintiffs' use of their property, and caused the same to diminish in value. Indeed, the plaintiffs' ability to keep and maintain domestic and farm animals has been greatly impacted due to the reaction of the plaintiffs' animals to the presence of the large cats, particularly when the cats roar, caterwaul or otherwise make their presence known. Indeed, certain sounds of the bigger cats can be heard for several miles."
They say at times they cannot even sleep at night for the "roaring, caterwauling [and] fear of escape ... that is caused by the excessive number of Class I cats as a result of their nocturnal nature."
The plaintiffs point out: "Tigers, lions, cougars, leopards, jaguars, and all large cats and mixed breeds thereof are classified as inherently dangerous animals (carnivores) under class I of the laws of the State of Tennessee."
They seek an injunction and $5 million in damages for nuisance and trespass, and want the defendants "enjoined from acquiring any additional tigers" on their land.
They are represented by James Scott with Pemberton & Scott, of Knoxville.
Kingston, pop. 5,600, about 40 miles west of Nashville, was the site of the enormous spill of coal fly ash from Tennessee Valley Authority retention ponds in December 2008.