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Pet Tiger Mauls 3-Year-Old Boy

November 24, 1995 GMT

APEX, N.C. (AP) _ A family’s pet Bengal tiger mauled and critically wounded a 3-year-old boy as his father was walking the animal on a leash.

Tyler William Forsythe underwent surgery for head wounds at a hospital Thursday night. The year-old, 350-pound male tiger, which had been declawed, was shot dead by the boy’s father and police.

The attack Thursday afternoon came several weeks after conservationists warned the family about the dangers of keeping the tiger. They had even tried to get federal officials to confiscate the animal.

``Taking a year-old tiger for a walk is just stupid,″ said Linda Dunn, an animal worker at the Carnivore Preservation Trust in nearby Chatham County. ``It’s an accident waiting to happen.″

The boy’s father, Mark Forsythe, kept the tiger in a pen behind his brother-in-law’s home in a rural area outside this Raleigh suburb, police said.

Forsythe walked the tiger on a leash almost daily and told investigators that he took his three children to see the animal for the first time on Thanksgiving Day.

Forsythe said he was returning the tiger to its pen when his three children approached and Tyler, the youngest, was attacked.

Animal control officers were checking the tiger’s carcass for rabies.

In most of Wake County, the only restriction on exotic animals is that they be kept in secure enclosures.