On October 1, 2003, the US Emergency Service receives a call from a man who says he needs immediate care after being attacked by a pit bull. It was a half-truth: he really needed care, but he was attacked by a much larger wilderness, a three-year-old 200-kilogram Siberian tiger.
Thus, the story of Antoine Yates began to be known!
Antoine, 37, had serious injuries: his forearm was bruised and part of the bone in his right leg could be seen. The flesh in both places looked as if it had been torn apart by powerful claws. Crying and facing down on the floor, he confirmed the version that he was a pit bull.
Within hours, the police learned the truth: The attack was on Ming, a 3-year-old tiger who was also Antoine’s best friend since he was a cub.
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Two days later, the local police had a plan: One of them would descend the rope, inspect the apartment and shoot tranquilizer darts to capture the animal.
The officer in charge of the operation, Martin Duffy, described the tense moments of the operation in an interview with the New York Post in 2018.
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‘I put the rifle out the window, threw a dart and hit it. (…) He jumped and ran. He ran towards the opposite wall of the room, turned and ran back to the window, near me,’ the officer said.
According to Duffy, only the bars on the window stopped the tiger from attacking him.
After 15 minutes, with the dart already in effect, the police force along with wildlife conservation officers entered the apartment.
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In the apartment, he still had to deal with snakes and a 2-meter alligator named Al, who were all picked up by Antoine.
At the trial, where Antoine was charged with molesting a wild animal, among other crimes, he explained why he had a three-year friendship with Ming.
‘He was let go. I know what abandonment feels like. I feel heart broken. I miss her so much. He’s like my brother, my best friend, my only friend.”
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Antoine also had two lions (Jabba and Nemo), who died young. Nemo was bought from a dealer in Minnesota already ill-advised. He had a few days to live, but with Antoine he lived for more than a year.
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In an interview with MEL magazine, Antoine said that he buys 9 kg of meat every day and spends 23 hours inside the apartment, living with a lot of animals. But how did the attack happen?
According to Antoine, it was related to a cat named Shadow, which he had brought from the street. The attack was the day Ming and Shadow first saw each other, when Antoine forgot to put the cat in a room as usual. If the two had not known each other for three years, Ming would have killed her, but he was ‘satisfied’ to remove Antoine’s frustration of not killing Shadow by kneeling.
Antoine later lost the opened criminal case, but a settlement saw him evade arrest. Their animals were taken to sanctuaries. Ming lived in a sanctuary in Ohio until October 2019, when he passed away at the age of 19.
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