A 66-year-old exotic animal owner from southern Ontario was attacked and killed by his 650 pound tiger as he entered the animal's cage to feed it.
Ontario Provincial Police were aware that Norman Buwalda kept exotic animals on his property in Southwold, southwest of London, when they responded to an emergency call Sunday afternoon.
A family member had found Mr. Buwalda a short time after the incident and managed to lock the Siberian male tiger in a separate portion of the cage. Mr. Buwalda, who was the chairman of the Canadian Exotic Animal Owner's Association, was pronounced dead at the scene.
This was not the first incident involving a tiger on Mr. Buwalda's property. In 2004, a 10-year-old Toronto boy suffered serious neck and head injuries after being mauled by a tiger. The boy survived.
Constable Troy Carlson said it's not clear what prompted yesterday's attack.
"Nobody witnessed it," he said. When officers arrived, the tiger "was just pacing back and forth," he added.
A man who answered the phone at Mr. Buwalda's residence declined comment.
Constable Carlson said the tiger remains in its cage on the property. Police officers saw a cougar on the property as well.
"We believe the animals are there legally. We went through this back then [in 2004]as far as exotic animals," he said. "And back then, the case was, well, the animals are there legally."
A post-mortem is scheduled for today, and Const. Carlson said that police will continue to investigate the situation.
"You're dealing with a wild animal, and, unfortunately, it turned on its owner and attacked," Const. Carlson said. "Certainly, it's something we're going to be looking into more, as far as okay, where do we go from here, because it's such an unusual case."
Stan Lidster, Southwold's deputy mayor, said last night that the township lost a court case that would have forced Mr. Buwalda to get rid of his exotic animals.
"It's sad that the owner himself has been mauled by the tiger. I [send my] sympathy out to the family," Mr. Lidster said. "But I still oppose people having wild animals. They should be confined in a zoo or someplace."
He said he wonders what will happen on the property now that Mr. Buwalda was attacked. "We'll have to see what happens, if the animals are still going to be there," Mr. Lidster said.
"It is a sad situation," he added.
James McIntyre, the mayor of Southwold Township, told A-News London Sunday night that the township tried to bring in a bylaw banning exotic pets but it was overturned in provincial court. He said he knew Mr. Buwalda.
"He [Mr. Buwalda]was so emphatic that his pets were .. they were family pretty near," the mayor said.