State of Florida Sends Notorious Tiger Exhibitor Packing

Authorities Refuse to Renew Hawthorn Corporation Owner’s Permit to Exhibit or House Tigers in Florida

For Immediate Release:
May 30, 2013

David Perle 202-483-7382

Balm, Fla. — Sixteen of the tigers owned by the notoriously cruel Hawthorn Corporation—and kept on the Balm property of disgraced and unlicensed animal exhibitor Lance Ramos (aka “Lancelot Kollman”)—must be removed from the state, per a recent decision by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWCC). On the heels of an urgent appeal from PETA, the FWCC has refused to renew Hawthorn owner John Cuneo’s permit to exhibit and even keep tigers in Florida—and as of May 29, Hawthorn must move the tigers out of the state. The company is scheduled to do so today.

“The Hawthorn Corporation has notoriously flouted state and federal laws and grossly neglected tigers and other captive exotic animals for decades,” says PETA Foundation Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Delcianna Winders. “PETA is relieved that Florida is taking a stand against Hawthorn by handing this abusive company its walking papers.”

Hawthorn has accumulated $272,500 in U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) penalties, has had its federal exhibitor’s license suspended twice, and was the subject of the USDA’s first-ever confiscation of an elephant after the federal agency found that Hawthorn had forced an elephant named Delhi to stand in undiluted formaldehyde and failed to treat the resultant chemical burns. Hawthorn was subsequently ordered to relinquish custody of the remaining 16 elephants in its care. Hawthorn’s many violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act include forcing tigers to live in cramped transport cages for months at a time, denying them adequate veterinary care, and forcing them to eat moldy, fly-infested food. More than 30 tigers have died in Hawthorn’s care since 2000.

Ramos’ history is just as sordid: His infamous record of abuse—including beating two young lions to the point that one of them died—led the USDA to revoke his exhibitor’s license permanently in 2009. This federal ban prompted the FWCC to refuse to issue him a state permit to keep or exhibit tigers.

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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind