Judge orders sanctuary to turn over Boomerang
The lion's owner wants deputies available to make sure he gets the animal.
YOUNGSTOWN -- After an intense legal battle, Boomerang the lion will be leaving Noah's Lost Ark by noon Monday and sent to a new home in California.
A last-ditch effort by Noah's Lost Ark to keep Boomerang was overruled late Friday by the 7th District Court of Appeals.
After a day of legal wrangling, the bottom line is that Noah's, located on Bedell Road in Berlin Center, must turn over the lion, which it has cared for since it was an 8-day-old cub in October 2003, to William Long of Upper Arlington, a Columbus suburb.
Long's lawyer, J. Jeffrey Holland of Sharon Center, Ohio, also has asked the court to have the county sheriff's department on hand to make sure the judge's order is carried out and the animal is given to Long on Monday.
Long had until Friday to have the animal prepared to leave Ohio and be flown to the Shambala Wildlife Preserve in California, which is run by actress and animal activist Tippi Hedren.
Dr. Alvin Burger, a Canton veterinarian Long hired, determined that Boomerang is healthy enough to travel.
Long also obtained the services of Dr. Martin R. Dinnes, a veterinarian who has extensive experience in handling and treating wild animals, to handle the transfer in accordance with International Air Transportation Association requirements.
Animal sanctuary owners, however, have not allowed Dr. Dinnes on the property to prepare the animal for the flight, Holland said in court papers filed Friday.
Holland filed a motion with the court to order Noah's to allow Long and Dr. Dinnes on the property and to comply with the directions of Dr. Dinnes and his staff so the animal's transfer can be smoothly handled.
Dr. Dinnes has requested that Noah's staff assist him in loading Boomerang into a special crate for transfer.
Judge Maureen A. Sweeney ruled Jan. 4 that Long was the lion's rightful owner.
Sanctuary owners maintained the animal was abandoned with them, and that Long was no longer the owner.
They had refused to hand the lion over to Long.
Long said he bought the lion on behalf of a reporter for the New York Post, who was doing a story on the sale of exotic animals.
Long, an animal activist, said he always intended for the lion to be taken to Shambala.
But fearing the animal was too young to make the trip to the West Coast, Long took Boomerang instead to Noah's, intending for him to stay there only until the animal was strong enough to be moved.
Both sides have claimed damages in the long court battle, and Judge Sweeney will have a hearing at 10 a.m. Feb. 18.