Tiger owner builds new sanctuary for big cats-but has time run out?

WALDO, Ohio (WCMH) – Mike Stapleton is making a final push–trying to beat back the state from taking his private tigers.

Stapleton and an army of volunteers rushed to build a bigger, better cage, even though the state says time has run out.

“I am an enemy of the state,” he said.

Stapleton is at war with the state of Ohio over five full-grown tigers he keeps in his backyard.

The state wants to take them. Stapleton says he’s not going anywhere.

Stapleton’s daughter posted on Facebook, asking family, friends and neighbors to come and help her father.

It was a call to arms—and legs—to help build a new sanctuary.

Nearly two dozen family, friends and neighbors answered, converging on Stapleton’s farm in Waldo to help finish a 15-foot high fence.

“I feel pretty good,” he said. “I mean these people, there are people in the community they agree too that what the state has done is wrong.”

The new space for the tigers inches Stapleton closer to meeting the requirements of an animal sanctuary – which would exempt him from the new law.

After years – Ohio’s department of agriculture says it’s too little to late…

That Stapleton is now breaking that law – and must soon surrender his tigers.

“Surrendering is not even an option,” he said.

Stapleton remains defiant.

He is building that new space for his five tigers, and preparing for the fight over what he claims are clear constitutional rights.

“You know, ever since this law came about, these are still my property,” he said. “The state doesn’t own this, these are still my property regardless of what they’ve got saying down there.”

Stapleton tells us he has an attorney on stand-by – when the state moves on him and his tigers.

The department of agriculture will not give a time-table for when it will move. But, the state is clear. Stapleton is now violating the law by holding on to his private tigers

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