MUSKOKA LAKES - Approximately two months after a lion nearly escaped from his property over the August long weekend, exotic animal farm owner Nanda Guha has been charged.
Nanda Guha is flanked by his lion cubs Elsa, at left, and Greta, at right in October 2007. Guha has been charged by the OSPCA in relation to a lion’s near escape in August.
On Wednesday, Oct. 3, just hours after the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals announced it had laid a single charge against an Utterson man under the Ontario SPCA Act, this newspaper learned that Guha is due for a first appearance in Bracebridge court on Oct. 23.
Though court staff confirmed the date of Guha’s court appearance, it is currently unclear what charges he is facing, as court staff declined to elaborate further.
OSPCA spokesman Brad Dewar said his organization cannot identify the Utterson man charged by the OSPCA on Aug. 31.
“The OSPCA policy is that we don’t disclose the person’s name at the point of a charge,” said Dewar. “It’s not until a conviction or sentence is put in place that we release a person’s name.”
Officers from the Bracebridge OPP were called to Guha’s property over the August long weekend to deal with a near escape involving a lion, and later called in the OSPCA to inspect the grounds.
Though a police spokesman initially gave a statement that suggested the lion had escaped, police later announced that the lion had never made it out of its cage after attempting to dig its way out.
Police later said the lion was corralled into a garage while repairs were done to the cage.
Under standards of care defined by the Ontario SPCA Act, pens or enclosed structures for wildlife kept in captivity must be “designed, constructed and locked or otherwise” to prevent animal escapes and interactions with people that may be “unsafe or inappropriate for the wildlife.”
A statement from Dewar said a lion belonging to the unidentified Utterson man charged “was found with substandard housing and had attempted to escape its enclosure.”
Attempts to contact Guha for comment were unsuccessful by press time.
While currently there are no laws prohibiting the ownership of exotic animals like lions in Muskoka Lakes Township, Dewar said exotic animal owners still must abide by the Ontario SPCA Act.
The act is frequently used by OSPCA investigators in cases dealing with animal cruelty.