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Chatham County Animal Control Investigates Carnivore Preservation Trust

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CHATHAM COUNTY — TheCarnivore Preservation Trustin Chatham County works to preserve exotic animal species threatened by disappearing habitats and hunters. However, critics say the preserve has become so concerned with the animals that it is ignoring the safety of people.

A private investigator's report has accused the preserve of not maintaining cages and putting employees, volunteers and the public in immediate jeopardy. As a result, Chatham County Animal Control is inspecting every animal and cage at the preserve.

"I think I may have found a few minor things.. something that really does not create any emergency type deal. It's just something that need to be looked at and corrected," says animal control supervisor Michael Yarborough.

Allison Lavios, the preserve's general curator, does not expect the inspection to produce any surprises.

"Everything has been recently built so we're not going to find any problems down there," Lavios says.

Former preserve volunteer Mark Kostich and former employee Kirsten Moos were attacked and injured while working at the preserve. Kostich, who suffered scars on his back, says he does not wish the preserve any harm even though he is suing to cover his medical expenses.

"I would hate to see anything happened to the total organization," Kostich says. "I know of at least a dozen attacks where people were hospitalized."

Lavios says the only attacks she knows about are those of Kostich and another employee. Both occurred while the two were feeding the animals.

Kostich says he thinks the preserve might be covering up wrongdoing.

"All these attacks did occur," Kostich says. "If she's the general curator and doesn't know these attacks occurred, then she is part of the problem."

Kostich gave WRAL a list of 13 people he claims were attacked at the preserve. WRAL contacted two of those people Thursday afternoon.

A woman on the list says she was bitten and required 14 stitches on her scalp; another said she was bitten by a tiger and dragged off.

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Len Besthoff, Reporter
Chad Whisnant, Photographer
Kamal Wallace, Web Editor

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