Tigers Removed from Tarzan Actor’s Home

Two tigers and a leopard were removed from the personal property of Steve Sipek, a former actor who appeared in Tarzan movies. They were knock-offs of the original and it was in one of them Sipek was reportedly saved by a tiger during filming when a fire erupted and the big cat removed restraints so he could escape.

It was from this incident Sipek vowed to pay back the kindness by taking care of big cats. Only now several have been taken away over concerns they might escape the property where they were being held. Loxahatchee is where Mr. Sipek’s home is, and there are other residences not far away.

“Mr. Sipek and Ms. Boynes were in violation of federal and state laws that are in place to keep both people and animals safe and healthy. The FWC removed the animals to protect public safety and to place them in a licensed, healthy and safe facility,” said Maj. Curtis Brown, leader of the FWC’s Captive Wildlife and Investigations Section. (Source: Palm Beach Post)

In 2004 a six hundred pound tiger escaped from his property resulting in a twenty-six hour search and the death of the tiger. Just two years ago ABC News did a feature story on Sipek and the animal compound he calls home. He even raised his son from infancy with grown tigers and lions around them.

Owning big cats to help them is not necessary, and often exotic animal owners don’t have any formal training in how to interact with them. On the contrary, keeping them seems to be based upon a strong, or very strong emotional attachment.

There are big cat sanctuaries such as Serenity Springs Wildlife Center where they are taken care of, and not treated as pets living in areas where there are many people. The big cats at these sanctuaries often come from individuals who learn they are incapable of caring for them, or abandon the responsibility.

Exotic animal ownership laws vary by state, but hopefully state legislatures will gradually begin to phase the practice out.


Image Credit: Dick Mudde, Public Domain
The tiger pictured above is not one of the actual tigers mentioned in the story.


Related Links

Exotic Animals Taken Down by Police
Turn In Exotic Animals Day


Konstantin Trubin

thank you

No B.
Nancy B5 years ago

To me this is animal abuse, big cats are not playthings for people.

Lucille P.
Lucille P5 years ago

big cats should never be pets, surely the actor should have realised if he wanted to help there are other ways than to keep them as "pets"

Debbie Crowe
Debbie Crowe5 years ago

My concern is whether the tigers and the leopard can go back to being wild after being in captivity for so long, especially if they are very old!! Will they be able to hunt for food, make friends with other tigers, find shleter, etc..etc...etc....?

Sue Matheson
Sue Matheson6 years ago

things happen. it's not a good idea to keep wild animals.

Teresa Cowley
Teresa Cowley6 years ago

Wild animals should not be privately owned and kept, IMO. They are not pets, and need to be in a sanctuary with others of their kind. Though I can understand the pull of gratitude toward an animal who saved your life!

jayasri amma
jayasri amma6 years ago


Diane L.
Diane L6 years ago

It sounds like this man truly does care for these exotic animals, and I guess my feelings about allowing him to keep them would depend on the facilities provided for them. If he has a place that is big enough, allows them to be in as natural an environment as possible, they are well-fed, and veterinary care provided, AND the facility is safe for the neighbors FROM the cats, then I don't see an issue. However, if all of those conditions are not met, then the best interest of the cats has not been met and they should be relocated. It's whatever is in the best interest of these animals, not the emotions of the man who has them that matters.

Rosemary Graf
Rosemary Graf6 years ago

It's a fine line in keeping exotic animals. Many times the keeper wants to make sure they are living the best life that they can have. However, if their upkeep isn't the best and the animals escape people can get hurt or killed. Also, the animals in turn can also be killed or hurt in their recapture.

Carolanne Powell
Carolanne Powell6 years ago

As long as the cats are happy, well looked after, fed & loved then I would rather this than let them become extinct!! Obviously, the wild is where they belong & best for them, however, unless we stop destroying their natural habitat & abusing them for their skins/tiger parts etc...this is not going to happen. There should be a lot more regulations concerning both.