Big cats seized from former Tarzan actor's Loxahatchee compound
Former Tarzan actor Steve Sipek no longer has his cherished wild cats, losing them Monday after years of failing to comply with state and federal laws.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission seized two tigers and a black leopard from his 5-acre Loxahatchee compound, saying it was time to step in to protect the public and the animals. They were the only wild animals Sipek had left.
It was the first time the commission seized animals from Sipek.
Officials said Sipek had no federal permit to keep the animals, and there were violations concerning fencing and caging.
There also wasn't consistent commercial activity at Sipek's property, a requirement for him to maintain his commercial license, officials said.
Authorities said the animals weren't being fed a proper diet, they had bitten people multiple times and had escaped in the past.
Two of Sipek's acquaintances were bitten in 2002 and 2010, but did not press charges. In December 1996, a cougar escaped from Sipek's C Road property by leaping over a perimeter fence.
But it was the escape in 2004 of Bobo, a 600-pound Bengal tiger, that drew the attention of authorities and garnered international headlines. The tiger wandered the rural residential Loxahatchee community before being shot by a Fish and Wildlife officer.
Since Bobo's escape, Sipek has been battling state and federal officials to keep large cats.
FWC officers, who inspect properties with captive wildlife twice a year, had been working with Sipek to get him and his partner, Melanie Boynes, into compliance, FWC spokeswoman Carli Segelson said.
It got to the "point that we felt it was a safety hazard to the public, but also there were concerns about the well-being of the animals," Segelson said..
FWC officers on Monday also arrested Sipek for having the animals without a federal permit and for keeping them as pets. Florida law prohibits keeping wild animals as pets; they must be used for commercial purposes and exhibited to the public.
Sipek faces second-degree misdemeanor charges. He was released from jail Monday afternoon.
The FWC took the big cats to another captive-wildlife facility, but because of the investigation declined to disclose the location.