Big Cat Made Certain Florida Man Got Money’s Worth

Why would anyone pay for the opportunity to get up close and personal with an apex predator like a leopard? This is pure stupidity on the part of the customer and the “sanctuary” owner.

A Florida man paid for a “full contact” experience with a black leopard – and ended up severely injured, according to reports.

The animal kept in a backyard zoo in Davie, Fla., reportedly attacked the visitor the moment he entered an enclosure, the Sun-Sentinel of South Florida reported.

The customer, identified as Dwight Turner, 50, had paid $150 for a close-up encounter with the animal, to “play with it, rub its belly and take pictures,” according to Miami’s WPLG-TV.

After the big cat finished with him, Turner’s scalp was “hanging from his head and his right ear was torn in half,” investigators said, according to FOX 30 of Jacksonville.

. . .

The Davie sanctuary owner, identified as Michael Poggi, was licensed to run the attraction, WPLG reported. Authorities said he was charged with allowing full contact with an extremely dangerous animal and maintaining captive wildlife in an unsafe condition, the report said.

Hunting on the Decline in Florida and Nationwide

As the United States becomes more and more urban, the number of people hunting continues to decline, and Florida is experiencing that drop even more than other parts of the country.

According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, in 1994-95, Florida sold 175,894 resident hunter licenses and 3,480 non-resident licenses.

By 2000-2001, that had declined to 16,1882 resident license and an increase to 7,088 non-resident licenses. In 2003-2004, resident sales had dropped to 156,036 and non-resident sales dropped to 6,761.

In 9 years, then, the total number of hunting licenses sold in Florida has declined by almost 10 percent. That’s a bit higher than the national figure — the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimates that from 1991-2001, sales of hunting licenses decreased 7.3 percent nationwide.

Tampa Bay online sports columnist Frank Sargeant notes that a continuing downward trend in the sale of hunting licenses could have impacts well beyond hunters,

So who besides hunter should care [about the decline]?

Anyone with an interest in wildlife and wild places, actually. License sales help fund nearly 5 million acres of public land, much of it high-quality habitat for everything from whitetail deer to wild turkeys to quail, rabbits and squirrels.

Land preserved to produce good numbers of wildlife for hunters continues to do so as long as hunting pressure is managed, as it is today in all states across the nation. That’s why there are more deer and turkeys in America’s woodlands today than there have been in 100 years.

But when the interest in hunting goes away, so do the license fees. Without funding, it’s likely that the state will have to sell more of the land currently in the wildlife management programs to make ends meet — and these days, the bulldozers are rarely far behind when a piece of woods passes into private ownership.

This is one of the problems in the animal rights activists’ claims that, taken as a whole, animal watchers spend more money on their activities than do hunters. Even if you believe this, however, the hunters, fishers and trappers still pay far more money that goes directly to wildlife and land management.

This is the case especially given that hunters and wildlife watchers currently co-exist without serious problem given the large numbers who participate in one or both activities.


Hunting licenses sales keep falling. Frank Sargeant, Tampa Bay Online, March 27, 2005.

Animal Rights — Its Even for Flesh Eaters!

Sometimes you see quotes from animal rights activists that makes you wonder if they even understand their own ideology.

For example, in march the Body of Animal Rights Campaigners — a University of Central Florida animal rights student group, collaborated with the Orlando Animal Rights Alliance and the Farm Animal Reform Movement for a Meatout Walk.

Why they bothered to organize such a walk is a mystery given this statement from Body of Animal Rights Campaigners co-president Sara Beniamino,

You don’t have to be vegan or vegetarian to support animal rights. I just think if people had all the facts, as I do, they’d get there, because I used to eat meat, too.

Fine, I’m going to take this twit at face value and come out here and now — that’s right I’m a closet animal rights supporter. I support animal rights, I just also happen to think its okay to eat meat, experiment on animals, kill them for fur, hunt them, fish them, put them in zoos and circuses, and pretty much everything else that’s legal to do with animals in the United States other than cockfighting.

Maybe we need a whole new nomenclature for animal rights types similar to the umpteen versions of hyphenated vegetarians (for example, I might be classified as a morte-ARA — someone who supports the rights of animals but I also think its okay to kill them with impunity as long as you’ve got a good reason to do so, like you’re hungry or have a thing for veal).

Anyway, the whole thing was apparently a way to get money to rent a billboard. Dan Holbert, the other co-president of BARC, told the Central Florida Tribune,

The money raised for this vent goes to FARM, which does great work within the United States and around the world to address the plight of farmed animals. If OARA and BARC raise at least $1,000 together, then we get a billboard in the Orlando area showing people the cruelty of factory farming and asking them to go veg! If BARC and OARA each get 10 people to raise $50, then we’ve got the billboard.

And, of course, the annual statistics on number of animals slaughtered in the United States for food demonstrate just what a good job FARM is doing in the United States. In fact, since I’m coming out here as a closet activist, let me add that I encourage all of my fellow activists to give as much of their money as possible to groups as effective as FARM.

(On a side note, it is good to see they let Holbert out of his cage once in awhile).


Animal rights club beats meat. Bruce Rabin, Central Florida Tribune, March 10, 2005.

API Goes Mobile With Anti-Circus Billboard

Unable to find an outdoor billboard company willing to display its latest anti-circus billboard, the Animal Protection Institute has created a mobile 22-foot mobile billboard, presumably attached to the side of a truck, to drive around areas where circuses appear.

The mobile billboard made its debut in January protesting a Jacksonville, Florida, appearance of Ringling Bros. Circus. The billboard shows a chained elephant with the text, “Would you chain your dog for most of her life? Why Pay a Circus to do it to Elephants?”

In a press release announcing the mobile billboard, API’s Michelle Thew said,

If the depiction of life for these animals is too graphic to be shown on a billboard, the reality is too graphic for them to endure in the circus. Protestors will be outside the arena on Wednesday with a clear message — the catalog of misery that circus animals endure must come to an end. This is not family entertainment.


Opening Night of Ringling Bros. Circus to Attract Protest. Press Release, Animal Protection Institute, January 26, 2005.

Dan Berger Tries to Rewrite History

Far-left web site Infoshop has an interview with Dan Berger in which Berger tries to rewrite a little history about an animal rights conference he organized in the late 1990s.

Berger hasn’t been involved in the animal rights movement for years, apparently moving on to general left wing causes, but in 1999 he was busy organizing the Total Liberation Conference originally scheduled to be held at Florida Atlantic University. Here’s how Berger tells the tale today,

My last hurrah with animal rights came in 1999, during my senior year of high school, when I organized a conference-the first conference I went to. It was called the Total Liberation Conference, and was an attempt to bridge animal, human, and environmental liberation movements. In retrospect, it was more an “other issues 101” kind of conference for animal rights and Earth First! activists. Nevertheless, it was something quiet, conservative Boca had never seen, and it scared them. The state came down on the conference pretty hard-the university where it was scheduled cancelled a day before the conference was slated to take place. Then the cops shut down our first back-up location, effectively canceling the first night by stopping, searching, threatening and otherwise harassing activists who came to the park. The only person physically threatened was the speaker from the American Indian Movement, one of the few people of color there, who Feds threatened to shoot, and then followed until he left town. (Thankfully, he still came back the next day to speak.) It was a very intense time for me, and quite an education in the politics of repression. It was also a good lesson in organizing; despite having speakers from AIM and MOVE, the conference was almost all white. How I reached out to people and who I reached out to was very limiting. Being criticized for creating such a white conference under the name “total liberation” was a challenging but utterly important process for me.

The state brought everything to stop an animal rights conference? Not quite.

The university cancelled because Berger’s group failed to come up with the $900 fee the university would need to provide security. Why so much? Was the university trying to stick it to the activists?

Hardly. Berger’s group didn’t bother to apply to use space for the conference until just a week before the conference was scheduled to begin. Normally the university would hire off-duty police officers for security at such events, but with the last minute notice it was unable to secure enough off-duty officers and so would have had to pay its own police officers their on-duty wages for the conference.

So the group then decided to moved to a pavilion at Patch Reef Park in Boca Raton, Florida. But the Friday night before that was to happen, police showed up at the door of one of the organizers to inform them that the meeting would not be allowed to take place. Police sticking it to the activists? Again, not quite — again, the group failed to pay the $35 rental fee for the pavilion and never bothered to obtain a permit for the meeting.

How did the organizers react to their own series of incompetence? According to the Palm Beach Post,

About a dozen people from a conglomeration of activist groups picketed the Boca Raton Police Department Monday morning, spelling out “P-I-G” and chanting slogans such as “End the police state now.”

Animal rights nutcases insulting police by calling them pigs! That is simply delicious.

According to the Palm Beach Post,

Dan Berger, an Animal Defense League activist and Spanish River
High School student, skipped school Monday to picket police headquarters.

Remember kids, stay in school. Don’t let this sort of thing happen to you.


Fur flies in Boca when city, FAU block protesters. Eliot Kleinberg, Palm Beach Post, February 22, 1999.