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Isle of Wight tiger to star in new movie

Tue 11 Jun 2013

Isle of Wight tiger to star in new movie

One of the Isle of Wight Zoo's tigers is set to play a starring role in a new film.

Ming of Harlem: 21 Storeys in the Air will tell the true story of Antoine Yates, who famously kept a Bengal tiger and an alligator in his New York apartment.

Yates' incredible secret was discovered in 2003 when he was bitten by Ming, his pet tiger, and tried to claim the injury had been caused by a pitbull dog. Astonished police officers investigating at his high-rise apartment in Harlem found the 500 lb tiger and a large alligator in another room.

A film is now being made about these events, with the Isle of Wight Zoo providing the unlikely location for much of the filming. 

According to the Isle of Wight County Press, a set that recreates Yates' apartment has been erected in one of the enclosures and the zoo's tiger Rajiv has been chosen to play the role of Ming.

"It is not an everyday venture for the zoo," director of the zoo Charlotte Corney told the publication. "It was quite surreal actually. It was only when it actually started to happen that we properly understood what they were doing."

"The plan was to film one of the zoo's tigers in this domesticated space over several days, to film and observe the tiger as he interacted with this environment," explained producer  Madeleine Molyneaux.

Local girl Willow Samuel, the six-year-old sister of one of the zoo's employees, will also appear in some sequences.

With the film due to be released next year, a benefit screening on the island in aid of the zoo is being planned for 2014.

The Isle of Wight Zoo specialises in tigers and is currently home to seven of the animals. Visitors to the attraction can also see jaguars, lions, wallabies, lemurs and monkeys.ADNFCR-3083-ID-801597492-ADNFCR

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