Former Tarzan actor Steve Sipek arrested after three big cats removed from Loxahatchee property

LOXAHATCHEE, Fla. -- Former Tarzan actor Steve Sipek was arrested Monday morning after officers removed three large cats from his Loxahatchee property.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office served the warrant to remove two tigers and a black leopard housed on Sipek's property because his USDA permit to keep the three large cats was revoked, according to Officer Jorge Pino, an FWC spokesman.

According to FWC, the animals were maintained by Sipek and Melanie Boynes.

"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," Maj. Curtis Brown, leader of the FWC's Captive Wildlife and Investigations Section, said in a press release. "The FWC removed the animals to protect public safety and to place them in a licensed, healthy and safe facility."

Pino said Sipek was not complying with the rules and regulations of the USDA and Florida's caging and feeding requirements.

Two inspections of Sipek's property and animals are done each year by the FWC. Following these investigations, FWC officials said there were repeated failures to correct violations, including multiple bites and escapes, fencing and caging deficiencies, possession of Class 1 wildlife without proof of consistent and sustained commercial activity, possession of Class 1 wildlife without a U.S. Department of Agriculture permit and feeding animals an improper diet.

After this "lengthy investigation," Pino said the FWC determined it was not in the best interest of the animals and the surrounding community to allow the three large cats to remain there.

Sipek is being charged with possession of a class 1 animal without a USDA permit and possession of class 1 animal as a pet. Officials said he could face additional charges. Shortly after his arrest he was released on his own recognizance.

If Sipek appeals and complies with the FWC and his USDA permit, Pino said it is possible he will be allowed to have the animals back.

According to Kathy Carchia, a family friend, Sipek hand fed the animals while they were in his care.

The leopard, named Oko, and two tigers, named Lepa and Bo, are on their way to an unspecified Florida facility that is in good standing with the FWC.
 
"We want to support the ethical and legitimate use of wildlife," Brown said in a release. "We value our partnerships with the zoological and wild animal rescue community throughout Florida, as well as our relationships with responsible, properly maintained captive wildlife facilities."

In 2004, a tiger named Bobo escaped from Sipek's property and was later shot by a wildlife officer.

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