LION CUB CASE Appeals court affirms ruling
The lion wasn't abandoned, the court said.
By DAVID SKOLNICK
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN -- Boomerang, a lion cub at the center of a dispute between Noah's Lost Ark and an Upper Arlington man, took another step closer to being on the road to Shambala, a court of appeals ruled.
The 7th District Court of Appeals ruled Friday to affirm the decision made by a Mahoning County Common Pleas Court visiting judge that the lion, about 11 months old, belongs to William Long of Upper Arlington.
Long, an animal-rights activist, bought Boomerang as part of a news story on exotic-animal sales being done by the New York Post. Al Guart, a reporter working on the article, left the animal at Noah's Lost Ark of Berlin Center, an animal sanctuary. Long says the stay at Noah's was supposed to be temporary.
The operators of the sanctuary contend the cub was abandoned and left in its possession last fall, and Long no longer owns the animal.
The appeals court decision states, "No evidence suggests that appellee left the cub 'without regard as to who may take over or carry on.'" The decision states that the cub wasn't abandoned.
Lost Ark response
But Michael J. O'Shea of Cleveland, Noah's Lost Ark's attorney, says the ruling doesn't compel his client to return the cub to Long.
"We are transmitting by overnight mail [Friday] to the Ohio Supreme Court asking that they stay the request and have the lion stay at Noah's Ark," he said. "Giving a full-grown lion to Mr. Long is like giving a loaded revolver to a toddler. I respectfully disagree with the ruling."
J. Jeffrey Holland, Long's attorney, said O'Shea's "loaded revolver" comment was irresponsible.
"The cub is going to be handled by veterinarians and those who care for animals," he said. "We've said from Day One that the cub was going to be turned over to Shambala," a California animal sanctuary run by actress Tippi Hedren.
Holland said the cub was given to Noah's for temporary care. The lion is growing, making it vital that the cub be move immediately.
"They're grasping at straws," Holland said of Noah's. "If they're not willing to cooperate, we'll have to get an order from the trial court for a specific date and time to turn over the lion."
The appeals court order affirms the decision by Visiting Judge Charles J. Bannon that the lion be returned to Long. The case must go back to Judge Bannon, who would have to order the lion be given to Long, O'Shea said. That decision is expected shortly, O'Shea said.