Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Attack Not First by Ranch Big Cats; State Records Show Four Attacks in Five Years Involving Cats from the Jacksonville Sanctuary

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Attack Not First by Ranch Big Cats; State Records Show Four Attacks in Five Years Involving Cats from the Jacksonville Sanctuary

Article excerpt

Byline: KEN LEWIS, The Times-Union

State documents describe four attacks in five years involving big cats from Jacksonville's Catty Shack Ranch and Wildlife Sanctuary, whose owner was mauled this weekend at the St. Johns County Agricultural Fair after pulling a tiger off a 14-year-old boy.

Curtis LoGiudice, a 42-year-old Jacksonville man and executive director of the ranch, was cited for misdemeanor cage violations Monday by officers of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission who toured the site. The citation was strictly for the cages at the ranch, and information about the attack will be forwarded to the State Attorney's Office after more review, Fish and Wildlife spokeswoman Kat Kelley said.

"Lex," the 4-year-old tiger in the attack, was in good shape and will not be killed, Kelley said.

LoGiudice, who received puncture wounds, didn't respond to multiple requests for interviews. But Grant Bradley, the 14-year-old from Crescent Beach, landed on theToday Show for surviving the attack by the 350-pound, declawed Siberian tiger. His parents turned off their phone at midnight on Sunday, and reporters still showed up at their front door at 6 a.m. Monday.

"It was crazy," Bradley said.

LoGiudice probably won't lose his license for the animals, Kelley said, adding, "There are no specific guidelines on taking someone's permit."

What seemed like an attack on Saturday night might have been a play response, Kelley said. But she also said it was a good thing the deputies were there to subdue the animal.

"The cat appears to be calm and normal-acting," Kelley said. "The owner got in the cage, and he had the cat get up so the investigator could take some photos. He appeared to be playful and calm."

Since 1999, LoGiudice has been questioned at least four other times by Fish and Wildlife. Documents report one of his cougars bit a 19-month-old in 1999, while the other reports were in 2000 when an elderly woman was bitten on the arm by a tiger cub, a trainer suffered 23 puncture wounds from a cougar, and a woman sued LoGiudice after the same cougar attacked her on the ranch.

The state Department of Agriculture has an open investigation as well, spokesman Jim Rogers said, though he couldn't give details on exactly when or why it began.

The 1999 incident occurred when an assistant took one of the ranch's cougars from a veterinarian's office to her home, keeping it in her garage. The woman took the cougar out of its enclosure to clean it, but she forgot to close her garage door. A 19-month-old girl wandered from her back yard into the garage, where the cougar was held by a pole with a noose. The little girl approached, and the cougar "attacked the child, inflicting the bite," Lt. Skip Trubey wrote. She needed two stitches.

In February 2000, an elderly neighbor of LoGiudice's was gardening in her yard next to his fence. …

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