A cheetah is seen near Creston, B.C. in this undated handout photo. (B.C. Conservation Officer Service via CP)

Cheetahs will not prosper in Creston: Permit rejected for two big cats

Earl Pfeifer owns two cheetahs, one of which escaped in December 2015

The owners of two cheetahs will not be allowed to return the large, African cats near Creston, B.C., to use them as ambassador animals promoting conservation of the endangered species.

The Environmental Appeal Board, which considers issues raised under B.C.’s Wildlife Act, has refused to overturn a 2017 ruling denying a permit to move the cheetahs to Crawford Bay.

READ MORE: West Kootenay man fighting to keep 2 pet cheetahs

The appeal by Earl Pfeifer argued the permit denial relied on allegedly unsupported details about the danger posed by cheetahs, as well as charges that were laid by the province but later dropped, after one of the cats escaped in December 2015.

In a 37-page decision, the appeal board says Pfeifer and his partner Carol Plato have not offered any special circumstances that would allow the province to override legislation written in 2007 after a captive tiger fatally mauled a woman at a zoo-like attraction near Williams Lake.

The board panel, chaired by Linda Michaluk, questions Pfeifer’s commitment to his own safety protocols and his ability to control the seven-year-old cheetahs, Robin and Annie, which were described as “undisciplined” by a wildlife park operator in Alberta who briefly housed the cats.

READ MORE: Charges stayed for B.C. pair suspected of owning cheetah

Pfeifer and Plato had hoped to bring the pair to a property in Crawford Bay to use them for “education and outreach” aimed at children, after acquiring them from a South African reserve.

Without the permits, the cats remain in Ontario where Pfeifer testified he now rarely sees them.

A team member with Cheetah Outreach in South Africa told the hearing that cheetahs are the most docile of the large cats and that Robin is blind but both he and Annie, “are well socialized and suitable as ambassador animals.”

Linda Rosenlöf said she worked with the two felines in South Africa in the year after they were born and before they were shipped to Pfeifer and Plato in Ontario in 2013.

She testified there is no formal study program to become a cheetah trainer but the panel referred to a textbook co-written by cheetah biologist and handler Laurie Marker, who testified on behalf of B.C.’s director of wildlife.

“Cheetahs are not pets; they are wild animals and should be treated as such,” says the textbook “Cheetahs: Biology and Conservation.”

“Working with cheetahs requires extensive previous experience with animal training and handling. There are both courses and books that teach training practices that use positive reinforcement. Additionally, trainers new to cheetahs must begin their hands-on work with a mentor or with experienced co-trainers,” the textbook says.

FROM 2015: Creston RCMP calls include MVAs, shoplifting, cheetah sighting

Given that description, Michaluk writes that the panel “has concerns” about Pfeifer’s level of formalized training and with the consistency of care he could offer the cheetahs, especially during the daily walks and exercise he told the panel they would require outside the enclosure.

“Of particular concern is the evidence regarding Annie’s escape (in Crawford Bay) in December 2015. This reflects on the appellant’s abilities as a handler, although the panel accepts that this incident raises more issues than simply handling expertise,” writes Michaluk, adding that Pfeifer brought the cheetahs to B.C. shortly before Annie escaped, even though he knew he lacked the required permit.

“The appellant, in short, has demonstrated a disregard for the B.C. laws and regulations regarding (species such as cheetahs,) and for safety procedures and protocols of his own design, and of others,” she writes.

“In conclusion, the panel cannot conceive of any additional ‘special circumstances’ that support this particular applicant receiving a possession permit for these particular prohibited species.”

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Leeroy Stagger to bring edgier new sound to the Capital Ballroom

Award-winning folk artist will highlight new album, Strange Path, at Oct. 20 show

Ginormous 10-foot dragon towers over Saanich yard

Artist Dan Iochelli spent seven years crafting the metal beast

Popular corn maze at North Saanich’s Pendray Farms out of operation

No Halloween-themed activities taking place this year at local farm

Return of the undead: Victoria Zombie Walk hits the streets

Hundreds of zombies expected for annual event Oct. 26 in Centennial Square

Investigation into cause of Saanich structure fire underway

The Friday morning fire left contents of the home ‘beyond repair,’ says a Saanich firefighter

VIDEO: Explosion, fire sends woman running from Saanich home

Heavy smoke in the area, crews on scene

Jack’s Devils beat Quinn’s Canucks 1-0 in NHL brother battle

New Jersey youngster scores first career goal against Vancouver

Two charged after owner’s wild ride through Kamloops in his stolen truck

Crystal Rae Dorrington, 37, and Derrick Ronald Pearson, 32, facing multiple charges

Judge orders credit union’s bank records for Kelowna social worker facing theft allegations

The man is accused of negligence, breach of contract, fraud and a conspiracy with Interior Savings

Leaders pour it on with rallies, boosts for candidates as campaign reaches peak

The federal election campaign has reached a crescendo

Allegations of racism lead to ministry investigation at Vancouver private school

St. George’s School was contacted over what the school describes as ‘deeply offensive behaviour online’

Not a political question: Thunberg calls for climate action in Alberta

Edmonton police estimated the size of the crowd at about 4,000

Zantac, the over-the-counter heartburn drug, pulled in Canada, U.S.

Health Canada also investigates possible carcinogen in some ranitidine drugs

B.C. public safety minister says cannabis edibles not in stores til January

Mike Farnworth says he wants regional issues considered when it comes to licensing

Most Read