Remembering Harlem's own Tiger King

Updated: Apr 22



Ever since the docuseries "Tiger King" became a phenomenon on Netflix, there's been a renewed interest in another big-cat obsessive who once grabbed headlines: Antoine Yates, also known as New York's Tiger Man.


In 2001 Yates, a construction worker with a love of exotic animals, secretly smuggled a baby tiger into his apartment in Harlem's Drew Hamilton Houses on Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd and W 141st Street.


The cat, named Ming, quickly grew into a 425-pound adult. Yates kept it there for almost three years before authorities found out and staged a raid, complete with a police sniper rappelling down the side of his apartment building. Ming was then sent to a sanctuary in Ohio.


When the famous tiger died last fall, the story came to life again.



A post from last October on The Curious Uptowner's Instagram account featured an image of the building where Yates lived with the tiger. It elicited quite a number of responses, many from people who remembered the story well.


Here is what some had to say:


"Feeding him had to be expensive and I vaguely remembered the neighbors complaining about the smell coming from the apartment. Cats like to mark things... 🙈"–@aspecialblackpearl


"Omg, I remember that! Can’t believe it’s been that long."–@erickwashington


"[The animals in the apartment] did injure him (whether attacking or playing, who knows?). Seeking help for his supposed dog bite is how the menagerie eventually got uncovered."–@theundomesticatedlife


"If I remember the article the smell from the apartment because the Tiger was chained to the radiator was pungent. The guy went to work and would leave him there during the day. Awful conditions to keep a tiger. I also think he has a number of other 'exotic' animals in the apartment."–@aspecialblackpearl


"[C]haining this tiger in an apartment just seemed crazy. He was an eccentric man from what I remember he had a straight up zoo in that apartment. Snakes the lion and some other madness. It’s a wonder none of them attacked him... 👀"–@aspecialblackpearl


"Wonder who lives in that apartment now—and wonder if NYCHA told them the story of the previous tenant!!😳"–@gilchristsays


"Thanks for sharing this lost bit of Harlem history. I also didn’t know where the building was located."–@vdubsoninsta


"RIP Ming."–@jkaslow


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