Big-cat lovers join Steve "Tarzan" Sipek in mourning over the death of his tiger, Bobo

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Â?It was our greatest hope Bobo would be recovered alive,Â? Tracy Wilson, a director with Feline Conservation Federation said. Â?But we all agree public safety must come first.Â?

This week, big-cat lovers joined in mourning with Steve “Tarzan” Sipek after his tiger was killed during the recent attempt by Florida wildlife officers to recapture the feline.

The animal, named Bobo, was loose for 26 hours in Loxahatchee, Florida as wildlife officers made attempts to safely recapture him.

The cat reportedly lunged at one officer, who said he fired his revolver, killing the animal.

“It was our greatest hope Bobo would be recovered alive,” Tracy Wilson, a director with Feline Conservation Federation said. “But we all agree public safety must come first.”

Wilson said FCF members have “great respect for, and faith in” the Florida Game and Freshwater Fish Commission and their officers.

“Fortunately, escapes such as Bobo’s are extremely rare,” Lynn Culver, FCF director of legal affairs, said. “The safety record for the 8,000 licensed Floridians who hold over 20,000 exotic animals is excellent.”

Culver said statistics prove that in such rare escapes, injury from a wild feline “is almost non-existent.”

“The public has little to fear, in these situations it is the feline that may loose its life,” Culver said.

Florida wildlife officials are investigating to identify how the “mysterious breech of security” happened at the Sipek compound.

“There is speculation that someone motivated to create a public panic had a hand in Bobo’s escape,” Culver said, “This has happened before to other animal owners targeted by animal rights extremist groups. It is a frightening thought and all responsible owners should practice vigilance to prevent such domestic terrorists from doing harm to their animals.”

FCF backs a model for state regulations that borrows heavily from the Florida permit system.

“Their system is exemplary,” FCF president George Stowers said, "Florida regulations address animal welfare and public safety while allowing the personal freedom for responsible individuals to keep an animal of their choice.”

FCF, as a non-profit organization, supports private captive husbandry of wild felines and conservation of the species around the world, Stowers said.

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