11/13 OT: Ming of Harlem

Ming of Harlem From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Ming was a young tiger, approximately 2 years old, who lived in an apartment on the fifth floor of a large living complex in Harlem, New York in 2003.

His owner, Antoine Yates, had several pets in his home, both normal and exotic. At the same time that he was keeping Ming in one of his bedrooms, he was raising an alligator named "Al" in another bedroom.

Ming's existence became known and reported in the media[1] when Yates appeared at a nearby hospital emergency room with deep bite marks in his thigh. He claimed that his pet pit bull had bitten him, but the medical personnel were suspicious, because the width of the bite marks suggested an animal with a very large jaw.

While Yates was being treated, a New York City policeman was sent to his home address to investigate. Loud growling noises could be heard through the door of the apartment, causing the officer to avoid entering. Another police officer was sent to the roof, from which he lowered himself on a rope sling to peer in through the apartment’s windows. Ming attempted to attack him, nearly breaking through the window, frightening the officer. An animal control team was then sent into the apartment; they anesthetized the tiger and also discovered the alligator.

Subsequent questioning of the neighbors determined that the existence of the tiger was a sort of urban legend: some people believed it lived there, while others had always doubted it. One fact that turned up was that Yates regularly bought large quantities of raw chicken at the local supermarket, and it was a standing joke in the building that he could eat so much chicken every day.

In addition, Yates had taken roommates, unaware at first of the animals in the home. According to the New York Daily News,

A woman who shared a Harlem apartment with a 425-pound tiger said today she was terrified at first, but soon got used to living with the man-eater down the hall. Caroline Domingo told the Daily News she couldn't believe her eyes when she spotted the big cat roaming free in the apartment where she and her husband rented a room from tiger-owner Antoine Yates. But eventually, she said, "We all became family."[2]

Authorities decided to move the animals to more appropriate quarters: Ming was sent to an animal sanctuary in Ohio, while Al was given a new home in New Jersey. Antoine Yates was convicted of keeping dangerous animals in the city, and served a six-month prison term. When he came out, he sued New York City for the loss of his pets (including a bunny) and for $7000 cash which he claimed had also been in the apartment. A judge dismissed the case, calling him full of "chutzpah".[3]

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