KANSAS CITY, Kan. — A tiger and two mountain lions were among a menagerie of wild cats seized from private farmland in rural northeast Kansas, where they lived in inadequate chain-link enclosures and weren't properly fed or watered, authorities said Monday.
Authorities found a tiger; two mountain lions; three bobcats; two lynx; a type of African cat called a serval; and two skunks on the property. They were taken Sunday from the land belonging to a relative of the animals' owner and were turned over to animal sanctuaries in Texas, Florida and Kansas.
Atchison County Sheriff Jack Laurie said the owner became combative during the seizure and authorities found methamphetamine. He was arrested on suspicion of multiple charges, including interference with law enforcement and disorderly conduct. He also faces 10 misdemeanor charges related to the care of the animals.
Laurie said authorities became involved in early March after receiving a complaint. Witnesses reported that the owner previously had better pens but moved the animals to the relative's property about two years ago. The move was supposed to be temporary, but the animals never left, Laurie said.
"It was dirty," he said. "It was gross."
The cages were made of chain link panels wired together with hose clamps. They varied in size, with the tiger's measuring about 20 feet long, 10 feet wide and 7 feet high, Laurie said. The enclosures had mud floors and weren't staked down.
"My dogs would have been out of there the first day you put them in there," Laurie said.
Laurie said authorities weren't immediately able to seize the animals because there was no place to take them. But authorities received permission from the property owner to feed the animals, a Kansas City Zoo veterinarian evaluated them and rescue organizations began lining up new living arrangements.
The owner didn't live on the property, and, after receiving the complaint, authorities saw him tend to the animals only four or five times, Laurie said.
During the seizure, staff with the Humane Society of the United States and the Kansas City Zoo helped sedate the animals and prepare them to be moved. The Humane Society said in a news release that the tiger was shipped to the Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch in Murchison, Texas; the two cougars to In-Sync Exotics Wildlife Rescue and Education Center in Wylie, Texas; the bobcats, lynx and serval to Big Cat Rescue in Tampa, Fla.; and the skunks to Operation Wildlife in Linwood, Kan.
Laurie said the owner is cooperating with authorities and released all the animals to the rescue organizations. The Humane Society said the animals will be held at the sanctuaries pending the final disposition of the case.