Feds confiscate 10 big cats

Officials from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, in cooperation with the Marion County Sheriff’s Office, removed the remaining animals Thursday morning from an exotic-animal confinement located between Peabody and Burns.

“The Marion Sheriff’s Office was there to assist (the USDA officials),” Becker said. “Our function was to keep peace.”

The USDA is the licensing agency for the animal operation belonging to Chris McDonald, who was earlier arrested and released in mid-December on charges of possession of anhydrous ammonia in an unapproved container, possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of methamphetamine, improper disposal of animal carcasses and improper disposal of hazardous and household wastes.

Two tigers belonging to McDonald were previously killed. Officials later served McDonald with a notice on Dec. 31 of the scheduled attempt to confiscate the remaining animals on Friday, Jan. 9, unless “he made certain improvements, and he had not done that,” Becker said.

Among the 10 animals confiscated were three tigers, a female black leopard, two male lions, one female lion and one male leopard, while the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks removed two bobcats from the premises.

“They were all alive and healthy,” Becker said about the condition of the animals on Friday.

The confiscation was completed in less than three hours, Becker said. McDonald was “visibly upset, but he did not interfere.”

Possible further charges could include cruelty to animals, Becker said.

The confiscated animals will be taken to sanctuaries, but Becker said he was not given the details of the locations.

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