MUSKOKA LAKES - Nanda Guha is throwing his full support behind an exotic animal bylaw for Muskoka Lakes.
A lion prowls its enclosure at Guha’s Lions and Tigers Farm in Utterson in Township of Muskoka Lakes in the winter of 2010.
Photo by Matt Driscoll
Guha, owner of Guha’s Lions and Tigers on Highway 4, has received much public criticism for his wild cat farm. Some fear the cougar that mauled a dog during the summer escaped from his fences. They are also concerned cougar sightings in the Muskoka and Parry Sound area could be from his farm.
“It is not my cougar,” he told Muskoka Lakes council members on Tuesday, Sept. 11.
“To me, this is racial harassment. Before, I faced it in Port Carling, now I face it in Utterson,” Guha said. “I can’t help it that I was baked too long by my mother.”
Guha said he approached the Township of Muskoka Lakes in 1993 to ask permission to have a couple of tigers.
He received permission and over the years his farm has had numerous visitors, and he has taught students from around the world how to work with cats.
Currently he has two German students working with him in caring for his five lions, two cougars and one black panther.
He has two more tigers on loan.
“Now almost 20 years later, somebody got a frog in their throat and wants to shut me down. I want to know why,” he said.
There is some concern in the community and by council that Guha’s farm is not regularly inspected.
Guha said he is using the strongest fences he can buy and is also part of the Exotic Animal Association, which means he could be randomly selected to be inspected.
He said he is the 13th generation who works with large cats. He told council his 110-year-old mother in India still takes care of large cats, as well as his elephant.
Guha raises his cats from birth, allowing the lions to go into the house with him while they are young. He said he sometimes takes them out of the cage for some exercise until they are about three years old. After that, “if they are longing for me, I will go in to them,” he said.
Guha invited the councillors to visit, saying they will see how he talks to the cats and they talk back to him.
“In passing the bylaw I request you to put me in the grandfather clause because I will not part with my animals that I raised from birth,” Guha said.
He has two PhDs in economics, he said, but he moved away from dealing with people to working with his beloved lions.
“Although I have the name doctor, I don’t use it because I enjoy shovelling the poop of lions,” Guha said.
He said he will do whatever he can to help the community.
“If you’re passing the bylaw, I’m not against it,” Guha said. “There should be a bylaw because it could be dangerous if it’s in the wrong hands.”