Thursday, January 16, 2003

Charlie the tiger set free into Sik jungle


SUNGAI PETANI: Charlie the tiger, which made headlines in the local media in the last few days, was released on Tuesday into a jungle in Sik, more than 100km from here.
Its owner, oil palm plantation owner Zaitun Arshad, and his two sons were seen playing with their “pet” for about 30 minutes before it was set free.
Zaitun Arshad (centre) watching one of his sons stroke Charlie before releasing the animal back into the jungle. - Starpic by G.C. Tan.
The episode was witnessed by five pressmen who were “specially invited” by Zaitun to give his side of the story on his controversial “pet.”
The media team was taken to a spot in the jungle where they were showed the tiger before it was released.
“I have developed an attachment to the tiger and feel sad to part with it,” he said.
Zaitun, 50, said he had kept the tiger in another jungle nearby before it was taken to the spot.
“I had kept him in one of the jungles and visited him several times over the last two days. He comes to me when I call out his name,” he added.
The tiger, weighing about 200kg and measuring about 1.5m long, was given a hug by Zaitun before it was released at 5.30pm. It then slowly walked into one of the bushes in the deep jungle.
However, after five minutes he called to the tiger: “Charlie, Charlie ... mai sini, mai sini (Charlie, Charlie ? come here, come here).”
Within seconds, the tiger came running towards him.
Zaitun also said he intends to set up a mini zoo and would apply to the relevant authorities for a licence.
Zaitun and his “pet” went missing after reports about him keeping the tiger in his house in Taman Chempaka 2, Bukit Selambau were published in the newspapers on Sunday.
He claimed that he had caught the fully-grown tiger in a trap two weeks ago and had since kept it in his house.
A state Wildlife and National Parks Department official denied Zaitun’s claim that he had applied for a permit to keep the tiger.
It is an offence under Section 64A of the Wildlife Protection Act to rear, hunt or kill tigers. Offenders are liable to a RM15,000 fine or five years’ jail, or both, upon conviction.