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Exotic Zoo Owner Trapped By His Tiger

In states where it's not illegal, it's relatively inexpensive to buy and keep a baby lion or tiger—generally comparable to the price of a fine pedigree dog. Tiger cubs are incredibly cute and fun, except that in the space of just a year or two they become adult tigers weighing several hundred pounds and capable of ripping to shreds—and eating—their owners. What's more, tigers are notoriously untamable, fickle beasts, playful one moment and deadly the next, making no distinction between human friends and human enemies. When casual big-cat owners realize they can't control their now-adult tigers, they call Joe Taft, founder of the Exotic Feline Rescue Center in Indiana.

Joe's sanctuary for abandoned wild animals is the second largest in the nation and provides a habitat where lions and tigers and such can live out their days peacefully. Although Joe and his team try to avoid letting the big cats reproduce, sometimes, well, accidents happen. Cats will be cats, I guess. When there's a new cub born on the grounds at EFRC, it's hand-raised by humans until it is ready to live in the wild.

In 2002, Joe was raising one of these cubs in his own home. It was a boisterous, wild thing, growing bigger and bigger every day. Still, Joe was fully capable of controlling his tiger … until the man had a heart attack and subsequently underwent quintuple bypass surgery. As you can guess, having a tiger for a roommate—even a young one—was quite dangerous for a cardiac patient. Suddenly, Joe's own home became a very real threat to the weakened and recovering man. There was only one thing to do: Joe had a steel fence built around his couch. And Joe Taft spent the bulk of his recovery time caged in his living room, eyeing his things from behind bars while the tiger roamed freely through the rest of the house, pacing and roaring and keeping Joe a literal prisoner in his own home.

Possible Preaching Angles: Now, metaphorically speaking, guess which character in that story is you and which is the tiger. Sin is like a tiger, prowling 'round your life as if it owns you, threatening your very existence with its mere presence, staring at you through the cage that imprisons you—a cage of your own making. And you're the man on the couch, seeing freedom beyond the wire but too weak to master sin by yourself.

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