When the Circus Comes To Town

And the stars of the show end up dead

Pace, however, was not impressed with Parr.
"I thought the owner did a lousy job. He should have gone and personally paid to have a lot more of those dart guns so his animal wouldn't have had to be killed."

Pace didn't know that it is illegal for Parr, or anyone else who is not a licensed veterinarian, to possess that medicine.

"I never felt like they were well contained, and I also think that I don't approve of the way they keep them in these little cages. There's no perimeter fence still up," Pace said, a month after the escape.

Pace didn't know that the perimeter fence had since been finished.
She says she heard that two years ago two cougars escaped because Parr's caretaker at the time had let them out on purpose while he cleaned the cages. This seemed pretty irresponsible to her. One of the cougars, she says, was never captured. It's still running around in the wild, though she hasn't heard of anyone seeing it in at least a year.

Parr remembers the incident. Someone opened the cages with bolt cutters and either stole or allowed a cougar cub to run loose. The mother never left the cage.

Parr is private to the point of being gun-shy and has not made many friends among his neighbors. More than a few of them don't approve of what they think Reginald Parr is up to. Parr says neighbor Nathan Miles has called to tell him that community meetings have been held to discuss what might be done about "the problem." The problem being Parr and his tigers. Miles may be sympathetic, says Parr, because Parr reimbursed Miles several hundred dollars for the hog that Binanca ran off.

Big-cat activist and volunteer Dana Mushrush isn't even a neighbor -- she works at an exotic-animal refuge in Kirbeyville -- and she disapproves.

"When I heard about those two tigers I thought, right off, that's him. He initially called me after Fox 26 had done the one story they did about our refuge. He said, well, he would be willing to take some of the animals if we had to close down. He said he was into preservation of large carnivores. That's what he told me. Right away my head goes, 'All right, preserving them, what does that mean?' And he was very sketchy to me about the whole thing. He wasn't offering me very much information. I had other phone calls: Can I donate money? Can I come help? What can I do? [He says,] 'I'll take them for you.' My light goes on immediately. We were paranoid about each other."

Mushrush had also heard something about two black panthers having once escaped from Parr's facility, though it should be noted that such an escape has not been documented, and panther sightings are to Montgomery County what Chupacabra sightings are to the Rio Grande.

Mushrush wears an exotic-animal refuge T-shirt and dangly tiger-shaped earrings. She thinks that no matter your safeguards, there will always be human error, and consequently, tigers and other big cats will always escape, and when they do, they will usually die. She does not believe they should be bred as long as there are more than the zoos can afford to keep. She says she would rather have never seen a tiger and would rather they die out at the hands of poachers in the wild than to see them in caged and abandoned circumstance. She thinks private ownership of tigers should be against the law, and maybe she's got a point, but right now the law is not on her side.

Excepting a pending investigation of the escape, the USDA has always given Parr and Animal Extravaganza clean bills of health, even when Parr was incarcerated and inspections reports had to be signed by his mother.

Montgomery County says that it has no plans to pursue any legal action against Parr.

Reginald Parr, meanwhile, is bent over a barrel. He's still on parole, and though he's got a new supervising officer, his travel is still restricted. Parole officer Carnathon was taken off his case after Parr's attorneys informed the parole board that she might be a defendant in a lawsuit Parr is considering. Parr hasn't ruled out the possibility of filing suit against Montgomery County, either. He's not happy with the way he feels his cats were gunned down, with the lies he thinks he was told, with the rumors that he knows have spread, and with the disorganization and mob mentality of too many people, media included, who had no legitimate business hunting his tigers.

Still, he hopes that his attorneys will sort out this mess with the parole board and he'll have permission to move freely in Montgomery County, at which point he intends to begin living there full-time, with his remaining cats.

He's got a spare bedroom full of expensive veterinary equipment just waiting for the research facility to grow up around it. There's a seal that needs to be replaced on the dozer, but then it can start doing what he bought it to do: scoop out the marshy area ringing the front of his property into a real lake. There's a lot of hard work to be done. Parr estimates five years' worth at least, measured from the day he starts living on-site. Parr knows that good-old-boy networks are at work in Montgomery County, as elsewhere, and since he intends to live peacefully among Cut and Shoot's citizenry, he hesitates to be seen as overly accusatory. One speeding ticket constitutes a technical violation of his parole and could send him back to jail. He worries that he's said too much already.

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