The Critical 'I'

Read. React. Repeat.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

DEGREES OF FLORIDA WILDLIFE SEPARATION
You may recall the story of Bobo, the tiger that was killed by Florida Wildlife officers in Loxahatchee, Florida after it had escaped from its residential owner. That owner, of course, was Steve Sipek, AKA Steve Hawkes, a retired B-movie actor who's main claim to fame was starring in a series of Tarzan-like Spanish-language movies; thus, the story was tagged with a "Tarzan lost his tiger" angle.

Electric Bugaloo guest blogger Laura found herself in a six-degrees-of-separation situation related to this story, when she ran into Sipek's son, who is a manager at a Denver-area Hooters she visited. The guy even showed off his scars from when Bobo attacked him as a child!

I myself have a six-degrees connection to this sordid case. Willie Puz, spokesperson for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, has been getting threatening messages over the incident, directed both at him and the Commission in general. Most of the agency's employees, which include scientists and field staffers, are being told to not wear their uniforms, to avoid drawing retaliation.

I went to school with Puz. He graduated a year ahead of me. We weren't close friends, but we partied together some. He was a fun guy to hang out with. I knew he had gotten into the conservation field, and heard he was working somewhere in the southern part of the state, but I hadn't kept in touch with him for years. It's a bit strange to be reading about him in this context.

Here's hoping Willie comes out of this crisis without harm. Maybe I'll see him come reunion time; if he shows up, he'll get a lot of attention from this.