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In the Age of 'Tiger King', Who Remembers 'Tiger Man' from 2003?

By now, most people have heard of the Netflix phenom Tiger King, but what most people probably haven't heard of is Tiger Man -- until now. 

Almost two decades before Joe Exotic, full name Joseph Allen Maldonado-Passage, captivated audiences across the country, New York City resident Antoine Yates was the beloved owner of the animal, which he kept in his Harlem apartment for two years. 

In 2001, Yates brought home the 8-week-old Siberian-Bengal mix and it quickly went from being bottle-fed to devouring 20 pounds of chicken thighs. In 2003, after suffering an accidental gash from the tiger, who he named Ming, authorities discovered and relocated it to a sanctuary in Ohio. Ming passed away of natural causes in February 2019.

When the incident hit headlines, a then 31-year-old Yates was dubbed as "Tiger Man" in media.

A five-foot-long alligator was also removed from the residence and it was suspected that he had other animals including bear cubs, monkeys, snakes, a llama, and a young lion but in a recent interview with The New York Times, all Yates admitted to was "having a lot of exotics in there."

Tiger Man served three months behind bars and five years probation for the crime.

And for those wondering if the Tiger Man is a fan of Tiger King, Yates shared that he "was turned off by it." 

"It just shows how ignorant these so-called exotic animal lovers can be," he added.

Along with the prison time, Yates is no longer allowed to have animals but that hasn't discouraged his dream of one-day owning an animal sanctuary of his own. 

"I’ll always love animals till I leave this planet," he said. "I loved the experience. I would do it again."






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