On November 12th, 2003, the state of New Jersey took control of Joan Byron-Masarek’s compound in Jackson, NJ. In 1999, a roaming tiger was shot and killed in Jackson and was believed to be from Byron-Masarek’s 13 acre tiger sanctuary.

Jeff and I were on the air here when the tiger was spotted in Jackson, and we, like everybody else assumed it came from Six Flags Great Adventure’s safari park. The park assured everyone that all their tigers were accounted for, but people were skeptical, wondering where else a tiger would be housed. Officials investigated and that’s when the public found out there was a woman known as “the Tiger Lady” who had a tiger sanctuary in Jackson.

According to the book On This Day in New Jersey History, the tiger was never conclusively proven to be from Byron-Masarek’s compound, but the increased attention on her arrangement, resulted in charges being filed against her due to the poor condition of her tigers. Eventually, 24 tigers were confiscated and relocated to Texas after Byron-Masarek’s license to house exotic animals was revoked. It took four years of legal wrangling to wrest control of the tigers and the compound.

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