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February 4, 1999

For more information contact:
David Chanda at 609-984-6295

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection's Division of Fish, Game and Wildlife yesterday directed the owner of a Tigers Only Preservation Society (T.O.P.S.) facility in Jackson Township, Ocean County, to immediately improve the existing grounds and buildings. The directive was given after a thorough inspection of the facility indicated that it did not meet current safety standards.

"Safety of the neighborhood and those directly involved in caring for the tigers is our primary concern," said Division Director Bob McDowell. "A safe facility is not only critical to the welfare of the individuals involved, but to the animals as well."

Extensive investigation of the T.O.P.S. facility was prompted by last week's escape of a tiger, whose origin is still unknown, in Jackson Township. The inspection revealed several safety hazards that must be rectified within the time frames specified if the owner, Joan Byron-Marasek, is to retain her permit to possess the animals.

To ensure public safety and compliance with New Jersey Administrative Code (N.J.A.C.) 7:25, the T.O.P.S. facility must make the following improvements within the specified time frames from the correspondence date of February 3:

In addition, the owner must clarify purpose and intent of possessing tigers, and remove all tarps, boards and other obstructions to avoid "blind areas" where the presence or absence of tigers is impossible to detect. Also, the existing trailer must be replaced with a suitable structure for indoor shelter including the installation of a double door entry system to ensure safe access. In addition, alteration of the facility to accommodate the number of tigers possessed must be completed, as well as the establishment of a record-keeping program to individually identify each animal. The perimeter fence must also be evaluated for safety.