June 2 moving day for big cats in Lambton Shores

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The big cats of Lambton Shores need to be removed by June 2.

Justice John A. Desotti delivered the deadline Tuesday in the Ontario Court of Justice in the ongoing saga, which has now dragged on for more than a year.

Lambton Shores passed a bylaw banning exotic animals after Mark and Tammy Drysdale announced they would open the Roaring Cat Retreat in the municipality, which would have featured lions and tigers.

“In my view the clock is now ticking in respect to removal of the animals,” Justice Desotti said. “I consider this to be a hard time frame.” 

The Drysdales had said it would take two weeks to construct the cages necessary to move the animals, but work had been unable to proceed due to the restrictions related to COVID-19. Desotti had previously expressed concern there may be risk associated with such construction, but with restrictions easing in Ontario the judge is confident the work can now go ahead.

Annalee Baroudi, representing Lambton Shores, said the municipality was pleased with the decision “as long as it’s going to be a firm and final deadline.”

After that date, it’s clearly understood that the municipality will be moving immediately for a contempt motion if the animals are not removed,” Baroudi said.

The Drysdales say they will have the cats moved by the June 2 deadline.