Ming of Harlem

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Species Panthera tigris
Breed Siberian/Bengal (P. t. altaica/tigris)[1]
Sex Male
Born February 2000 (age 18)[2]
Racine, Minnesota, United States[3]
Known for Residing in an apartment building in Harlem, New York City
  • BEARCAT Hollow (2000)
  • Antoine Yates (2000-03)
  • Noah's Lost Ark Animal Sanctuary (2003-present)

Ming is a tiger that became notable when he was found living in an apartment in Harlem, New York City, in October 2003. Ming, approximately three years old at the time of his capture, lived semi-openly with his owner, Antoine Yates, in a room of his five-bedroom apartment on the fifth floor of a large public housing complex in Harlem. Several other normal and exotic pets were found in Yates' apartment, including an alligator named Al in another bedroom.

Ming is currently homed at Noah's Lost Ark Animal Sanctuary in Berlin Center, Ohio.


In April 2000, Antoine Yates, a 31-year-old part time taxicab driver and resident of Harlem, New York City, purchased Ming, an 8-week-old male Siberian-Bengal tiger mix, from the BEARCAT Hollow Animal Park wildlife sanctuary in Racine, Minnesota.[2][3] In 2005, the owners of BEARCAT Hollow were prosecuted and received prison sentences for falsifying records to conceal illegal animal trafficking through the sanctuary, which was discovered during an investigation following several serious complaints since 2001. Como, a 2-year-old 400 pound White Siberian tiger on-site, had escaped his enclosure and attacked a 7-year-old child. Como had carried the girl for up to 30 feet before releasing her, and after the incident he was subsequently euthanized by authorities.[4][5] Five months later Snickers, a 10-month-old Cinnamon American black bear housed at BEARCAT Hollow, had escaped his enclosure before being spotted at a neighboring house's porch while the residents, the Boone family, were inside. According to BEARCAT Hollow, Snickers was retrieved by simply coercing him into a SUV with a jelly donut, while local residents claimed Snickers had to be restrained with the help of Mower County deputies. [6] Records indicate that BEARCAT Hollow had previously sold a lion cub to Yates, but he had found another home for the lion shortly after purchasing Ming.[3][2]


After Ming was discovered in Yates' apartment in October 2003, subsequent questioning of the neighbors determined the existence of the tiger was widely known for at least three years.[7] One fact that turned up was that Yates regularly bought large quantities of raw chicken at the local supermarket, and it was a standing joke in the building that he could eat so much chicken every day. In addition, Yates had taken roommates, unaware at first of the animals in the home. According to the New York Daily News,

A woman who shared a Harlem apartment with a 425-pound tiger said yesterday she was terrified at first- but soon got used to living with the man-eater down the hall. Caroline Domingo told the Daily News she couldn't believe her eyes when she spotted the big cat roaming free in the apartment where she and her husband rented a room from tiger-owner Antoine Yates. [...] But eventually, she said, "We all became family."[8]

Ming's existence became known and reported in the media when Yates went to the Harlem Hospital Center emergency room on September 30, 2003, after being bitten on the arm and leg.[9][7] According to Yates, he was bitten while trying to keep Ming away from Shadow, a cat he had recently adopted.[10][11] At the time of treatment, Yates claimed that his pet Pit bull had bitten him; however, the medical personnel were suspicious, because the width of the bite marks suggested an animal with a very large jaw.

Yates checked out of the hospital on October 3, and the same day, following up on a tip, an officer of New York City Police Department was sent to his home address to investigate. Loud growling noises could be heard through the door of the apartment, causing the officer to avoid entering. Another police officer was sent to the roof, from which he abseiled himself on a rope sling to view through the apartment’s windows. Ming attempted to attack the officer, frightening him, and nearly broke through the window. An animal control team was then sent into Yates' apartment where they anaesthetized Ming, and also discovered Al, a 5-and-a-half foot alligator that Yates had been raising in one of the other bedrooms.[10] Yates was later located at a hospital in Philadelphia and placed under guard.[7]

Legal actions[edit]

Yates was arrested on charges of reckless endangerment and the possession of a wild animal.[12] Later, his mother was charged with endangering the welfare of a child, since she had been baby-sitting children in the apartment. As part of a plea agreement to reduce charges against his mother, Yates pleaded guilty to reckless endangerment, and eventually served a five-month prison term with five years probation.[13][14] He was released after serving three months, and subsequently he sued New York City for the loss of his pets (including a rabbit) and for $7000 cash which he claimed had also been in the apartment.[15] A judge dismissed the case, calling him full of "chutzpah".[16]

Current location[edit]

Authorities decided to move the seized animals to more appropriate housing: Ming was sent to an Noah's Lost Ark Animal Sanctuary in Berlin Center, Ohio, while Al was given a new home in Indiana.[17][13]

As of 2010, Yates lives in Las Vegas with 22 big cats, including four tigers, having redubbed himself "Antoine Tigermann Yates".[2] He established the Reach Out And Respond (ROAR) Foundation in 2011.[18]

In media[edit]

In October 2010, the story of Yates and Ming was dramatized on the Animal Planet show Fatal Attractions. The episode was titled "A Tiger Loose in Harlem". A mix of re-creation and documented footage was used, complete with commentary by Yates, his family and police.[11]

Ming is mentioned in the documentary film, The Tiger Next Door.

Ming of Harlem: Twenty-One Storeys in the Air was screened at the New York Film Festival on October 3, 2014.[19]



  1. ^ "Tiger Captured in New York Apartment; Owner To Face Fines". Jet. 104 (18): 36–38. 27 October 2003. ISSN 0021-5996. Retrieved 26 February 2015. 
  2. ^ a b c d Somaiya, Ravi (28 July 2010). "The trouble with tigers". Newsweek. Retrieved 26 February 2015. 
  3. ^ a b c Laurence, Charles (12 October 2003). "Police probe couple who sold 400lb tiger found in Harlem flat". The Telegraph. London. Retrieved 26 February 2015. 
  4. ^ Silver, Beth (5 October 2005). "Exotic animal merchant sentenced". Pioneer Press. Archived from the original on 7 January 2006. Retrieved 26 February 2015. 
  5. ^ Meryhew, Richard (27 July 2001). "Tiger that bit Rochester girl did not have rabies". Minneapolis Star-Tribune. Archived from the original on 27 February 2015. Retrieved 26 February 2015. 
  6. ^ Meryhew, Richard (19 January 2002). "Incidents unnerve Racine, Minn., animal park's neighbors". Minneapolis Star-Tribune. Archived from the original on 27 February 2015. Retrieved 26 February 2015. 
  7. ^ a b c Polgreen, Lydia; George, Jason (October 6, 2003). "From a Cub to a Menace, and Now a Mystery". The New York Times. New York, New York. Retrieved October 8, 2014. 
  8. ^ Colangelo, Lisa L.; Woodberry Jr., Warren; Goldiner, Dave (6 October 2003). "She Shared Apt. with Tiger, Gator: It Was a Room with a Zoo". New York Daily News. Retrieved October 8, 2014. 
  9. ^ Martha T. Moore (2003-10-09). "Tiger in Harlem among thousands of kept wild 'pets'". USA Today. 
  10. ^ a b Saulny, Susan (October 8, 2003). "A Tiger's Keeper Says He Misses His 'Friend'". The New York Times. New York, New York. Retrieved October 8, 2014. 
  11. ^ a b "10 Questions with Antoine Yates". animalplanet.com. Animal Planet. Retrieved October 8, 2014. 
  12. ^ Saulny, Susan (December 19, 2003). "From Tiger Man to Sharp-Dressed Man for His Day in Court". The New York Times. New York, New York. Retrieved October 8, 2014. 
  13. ^ a b Tavernise, Sabrina (October 8, 2004). "Man Who Kept Tiger in Apartment Gets 5-Month Jail Term". The New York Times. New York, New York. Retrieved October 8, 2014. 
  14. ^ Ramírez, Eddy; Cave, Damien (July 21, 2004). "Tiger's Former Owner Reaches Plea Agreement". The New York Times. New York, New York. Retrieved October 8, 2014. 
  15. ^ Ortega, Ralph R. (December 24, 2004). "Tiger Guy Out, Eyes Reunion". New York Daily News. New York, New York. Retrieved October 8, 2014. 
  16. ^ Yates v. N.Y.C., 04 Civ. 9928 (S.D.N.Y. 2006) (“The word chutzpah, despite not debuting in a reported judicial opinion until 1972, is now vastly overused in the legal literature. Yet in a case such as this ... it is a most appropriate term to use.”).
  17. ^ "Rescued Animals". Noah's Lost Ark. Retrieved October 8, 2014. 
  18. ^ "EWCN: Team ROAR". Eden World Conservation Network. 2013. Retrieved 26 February 2015. 
  19. ^ "Projections Program 2". filmlinc.com. Film Society Lincoln Center. Retrieved October 8, 2014. 

External links[edit]