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Steve Sipek gives a bowl of milk to his pet lion in 2004. The former "Tarzan" star has had it and his two pet tigers removed from his home after troubles with authorities.
Wildlife officials say three big cats have been removed from the home of an actor who played Tarzan in a 1970 remake of the film.
Steve Sipek and his partner Melanie Boynes had two tigers and a leopard taken from their Loxahatchee, Fla., home because they didn’t have a federal permit for them and because of repeated failures to rectify violations such as multiple bites and escapes and “fencing and caging deficiencies,” the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said in a statement.
“Mr. Sipek and Ms. Boynes were in violation of federal and state laws that are in place to keep both people and animals safe and healthy,” said Maj. Curtis Brown, the leader of the FWC’s Captive Wildlife and Investigations Section. “The FWC removed the animals to protect public safety and to place them in a licensed, healthy and safe facility.”
Sipek was taken into custody Monday morning for possession of Class I wildlife without a license from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and for possession of Class I wildlife as a pet, both second-degree misdemeanors, FWC spokeswoman Carli Segelson said.
He was released on his own recognizance Monday afternoon, according to the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office. Information on his court proceedings is not yet available.
The warrant for the seizure also said the couple did not feed the animals properly and possessed them without the “consistent and sustained commercial activity” necessary for them to lawfully do so, according to the FWC.
Segelson said there were two biting incidents in 2002 and 2010. The victims were acquaintances of Sipek and did not press charges, she added.
The South Florida Sun Sentinel, which first reported the story Monday, said that in 2004 a Bengal tiger of Sipek’s escaped and was shot by the FWC.