Wednesday, April 25, 2018
News Roundup

West Malibu's fit for livestock, but not tigers, residents say

LOS ANGELES — After 29 years living in the mountains of western Malibu, Allana Stepp is used to having animals of different stripes as neighbors.

She's seen a neighbor's cow wander over and rub against her car. She has come face to face with a mountain lion. And a certain bobcat hikes up her driveway every Christmas to peek in the window and say hello.

But she draws the line at tigers. And so do her neighbors, who in recent weeks have launched a campaign to prevent a nearby property owner from building a structure that could hold up to five tigers.

Irena Hauser and her sister Sophia Kryszek now own two white Bengal tigers that have starred in many print ads, TV shows and videos. Hauser said she looked for more than five years at hundreds of properties until she found what she thought was an ideal location on the Malibu-Ventura County border. "We obviously never expected this kind of response," Hauser said.

Neighbors have hired a PR firm and brought in lawyers, organized a protest and community meeting and created a Facebook page, No Tigers in Malibu.

This part of Malibu is decidedly more rural than the beachside estates and boutique stores along Pacific Coast Highway. Many residents keep their own livestock — and say they worry about safety of their animals and themselves. They note that earlier this year, a 24-year-old woman was killed while interning at Project Survival's Cat Haven in the Fresno, Calif., area when a lion attacked her. A few years ago, a Siberian tiger prowled the hills of the Simi Valley for weeks after escaping from a sanctuary.

"It's a valid concern that you don't want to be eaten by a tiger," Ventura County planning manager Brian Baca said. "But behind that thought is the presumption that the tigers are going to get away. And that's the issue that has to be demonstrated (by Hauser) — that these tigers will not get away."

Hauser's first contact with tigers came at a sanctuary in Florida when she was about 8 years old. She and her sister got to hold a baby cub. "It looked into my eyes, and I was done," she said. "I had a connection."

After about a decade-long career in aerospace engineering, Hauser decided she wanted a "different style of life" and started observing tigers at animal compounds. She and her sister learned to watch a tiger's tail or head movement for clues about what the animal was thinking. Years later, she got a tiger of her own, then another.

Hauser said her two tigers, now 11 and 3, can do all the tricks a dog learns: sit, roll over and paw a high-five. Standing atop a dirt patch in the middle of her property, Hauser outlined where she plans to install the tigers' play arena with a pool. Tunnels that shoot out from the arena would feed into the tigers' enclosures, she said. Around it all would be a chain-link fence, and around that would be another. Her proposed enclosure would have room for up to five tigers, but she said she currently has just the two. (The tigers now live at a licensed animal facility.)

The location is ideal, she said, because it is zoned to allow the keeping of wild animals with the granting of a permit. She said her sister's family plans to live on the property.

Neighbors worry the tigers will threaten their safety, disrupt the environment and lower property values. "When you look down from Google Earth and you see all this open space, you erroneously get the idea that this is just a bunch of hillbillies up here. And we're not," said resident Lisa Siderman. ". . . I know these people love their tigers, but this is just not the right place."

 
Comments
Meet the man who wrote ‘Conjunction Junction’ and other ‘Schoolhouse Rock!’ songs that stick in your head

Meet the man who wrote ‘Conjunction Junction’ and other ‘Schoolhouse Rock!’ songs that stick in your head

Anyone whose childhood began in or after the early 1970s probably knows at least one or two Schoolhouse Rock! songs, the ones that taught children multiplication tables, civics lessons and basic grammar. In fact, reading that sentence probably has yo...
Updated: 5 minutes ago
Hit parade? More of a pitching parade for Land O’Lakes

Hit parade? More of a pitching parade for Land O’Lakes

LAND O'LAKES — Heading into the final week of the regular season, the Land O'Lakes High School baseball pitchers have compiled a team earned-run average of 1.37, a stunningly good number."It's funny, because that might be our batting average at...
Updated: 10 minutes ago
Memorials, crisis counselors at Lakewood, day after student dies in crash

Memorials, crisis counselors at Lakewood, day after student dies in crash

ST. PETERSBURG — Memorials are building and crisis counselors were at Lakewood High School on Wednesday morning, a day after a student was killed and two others seriously injured in a crash Tuesday afternoon.The fatal crash occurred just before 2 p.m...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Who will the Bucs take with the No. 7 pick?

Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Who will the Bucs take with the No. 7 pick?

Rick Stroud answers your NFL draft questions in this mailbag segment, including who the Bucs might take with the seventh overall pick, which running backs they might be looking at, whether Taven Bryan could slip to them in the second r...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Pasco SRO under investigation after video shows takedown of student

Pasco SRO under investigation after video shows takedown of student

LAND O’LAKES — An investigation continues after a video surfaced on Tuesday that shows a Sunlake High School school resource officer wrestling a female student to the ground while taking her into custody, according to the Pasco County Sheriff’s Offic...
Updated: 2 hours ago
The Daystarter: Competency hearing for Seminole Heights slaying suspect; Is TIA a dining destination?; Clearwater looks to relocate City Hall; ‘Most Interesting Man’ in Tampa

The Daystarter: Competency hearing for Seminole Heights slaying suspect; Is TIA a dining destination?; Clearwater looks to relocate City Hall; ‘Most Interesting Man’ in Tampa

Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what to know today.• Today’s high temperature tops out about 80 degrees, according to 10Weather WTSP. Our next rain chance is Friday when a weak front moves through. And next week brings the heat. Expect ...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Forecast: Clear skies, pleasant conditions take hold over Tampa Bay

Forecast: Clear skies, pleasant conditions take hold over Tampa Bay

ST. PETERSBURG — Now that a cold front — which spawned a weak tornado in Ruskin — has departed, it leaves behind pleasant conditions across Tampa Bay.Relatively cool temperatures, clearing skies and low humidity will take hold until Friday, according...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Competency hearing today for Seminole Heights slaying suspect

Competency hearing today for Seminole Heights slaying suspect

TAMPA — A judge could determine today whether the man accused in four Seminole Heights slayings is competent to stand trial.Attorneys for Howell Emanuel Donaldson III filed a formal request on Monday to ask that Circuit Judge Mark Wolfe appoint a psy...
Updated: 3 hours ago
ESPN’s Rece Davis on hosting College GameDay from the NFL draft

ESPN’s Rece Davis on hosting College GameDay from the NFL draft

When ESPN's Rece Davis heard about the idea for boosting the college football insight into the NFL draft, he didn't need any convincing."My immediate reaction was, this is a no-brainer," Davis said.Davis will spearhead the network's overdue look at t...
Updated: 3 hours ago
We tried the new restaurants at Tampa International Airport, and we're full

We tried the new restaurants at Tampa International Airport, and we're full

When Tampa International Airport debuted in 1971, each terminal had a newsstand and a snack bar, called something kicky like Snack Bar.
Updated: 3 hours ago