For Steve Sipek, who grew up in Eastern Europe
and immigrated to the United States, playing Tarzan on the big screen --
in films including 1972's "Tarzan and the Rainbow" -- was a dream come
true. His acting career turned out to be short, but his love of big cats
became a lifelong passion.
For nearly 40 years, Steve Sipek has shared his Florida
home with tigers, lions and other big cats. Here he cavorts in a pool with
one of his pets. "In the pool ... they think they're in a river attacking
a crocodile," Sipek said. "They see me as an object -- 'Oh I can get this
object' -- because their mind locks up. And when it locks up, you don't
want to be there."
Photos show Steve Sipek with a big cat named Bobo, which
escaped the compound and was shot dead by authorities in 2004.
Photo shows Steve Sipek's son, Steve Jr., in bed with
big cats at Sipek's Florida home in the 1970s. He often takes walks with
the lion. Today Steve Jr. lives in the western U.S.
Steve Sipek is pictured dozing with his big cats. "If
you let them know that you love them, they will accept you into their lives
and they'll push that killer instinct away," Sipek said.
"I have this sixth sense that always works for me," Sipek
said. "No tiger can come with the intent to hurt me without waking me up
before that happens.
Like father, like son: Steve Sipek Jr. often dozes with
Real-Life Tarzan Shares Home With Big
Former 'Tarzan' Actor Says Spiritual Connection to Lions, Tigers
Protects Him and Family
News ~ March 24, 2010
There is no welcome mat at the front door, but the sign
on the electronic front gate offers a greeting just as clear: "Trespassers
will be eaten." Driving past the slowly withdrawing gate, even invited
guests can feel some unease. And the tension only increases upon first
sight of the yard. A gravestone is flanked by tusks protruding from the
ground. Sculptures of menacing beasts are mixed with nudes of the human
form, all showing the wear of wind and rain. It's an atmosphere of a carnival
halted by grief. Somehow the place is both wondrous and a monument to the
dead. One isn't sure initially who, or what, is buried here.
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