THIS is the Co Antrim man who ran a Tiger King-style animal sanctuary which collapsed amid claims he decapitated lion corpses for profit and put kids in danger.
Unlike Joe Exotic from the hit Netflix show, Norman Elder's troubles with the law didn't see him banged up in jail but ended quietly with a secret out-of-court settlement over his eviction by a charity.
The shaggy-looking big cat lover kept a 20-stone pet tiger called Sonya and had a contract with the then Department of Environment (DoE) to care for rescued wild animals at his site at Benvarden near Ballymoney.
But he was later accused of chopping off the heads of dead lions to sell to dealers in exotic taxidermy - something he strongly denied.
He also allowed children to pose for photographs with potentially deadly tigers, prompting the authorities to shut him down.
But Elder fought a lengthy legal battle against his eviction from the Wildlife NI premises which the High Court eventually ruled was unlawful.
Following claims in a BBC film, the DoE suspended its contract with Elder's Wildlife NI firm.
His tiger and two wolf dog hybrids were also taken from him and rehomed, the DoE said in a statement to Sunday Life back in May 2008.
Elder, now aged in his 50s, has kept a very low profile despite the recent surge in interest around big cat rescue following the hit Netflix documentary Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness.
His troubles started in February 2008 when inspectors from the Ulster Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (USPCA) made a gruesome discovery at his site based in the remains of the former Causeway Safari Park in Benvarden.
It was sparked by photographs which appeared on his website showing youngsters in a cage with him and Sonya.
Inside they found five headless lion carcasses which had been buried following their humane death two years previously.
At the time Elder said he had cut their heads off and buried them about 20 feet from their bodies to stop anyone digging them up and selling them.
In one of the few times he spoke to the press, he said: "At the time the lions were put down someone said to me, you could make a fortune selling them to get stuffed.
"I said, 'No, I'm not having that'. I cut the heads off and buried the heads about 20ft from the lions so that anybody sneaking in to dig them up would be useless to them."
Later that year, BBC Northern Ireland broadcast a documentary investigation into Elder's operation called The Lion, the Keeper and the Dealer. In the film, he said he had to put them down as their keeper had died and he was the only person able to care for them.
"I went to the (DoE's) Environmental Heritage Service and said it's not fair. No zoo is going to take them, no one is going to take them because of their age and unpredictability," he said.
Elder also claimed he had offers from an unnamed man who wanted to buy the bodies for the taxidermy trade.
"I'd been approached a couple of times by the same gentleman and I said, 'No, certainly not'," Elder told the filmmakers.
Until the introduction of the Dangerous Wild Animals Act in 2006, anyone could keep lions, tigers or any type of exotic beast.
The new law saw many such animals confiscated from private owners by the USPCA which is how Elder ended up with his 15-year-old Sumatran tiger Sonya.
The feline which would be his undoing came from a house in Omagh and needed nearly half a stone of meat a day thrown into her former elephant cage home.
Elder said because she was bred in captivity and had been spayed, she was usually docile.
He said of Sonya: "If I go up to one of the staff caravans and don't call in to see her, she howls because she knows I'm there. Also there is another member of staff who feeds her.
"He won't put his hand into the cage or anything like that but when she hears him coming, she gets really excited. She does take to certain people."
However, the USPCA disagreed and evicted him from the premises, where he also lived, after he let kids pet Sonya with him holding her head as the only safeguard.
His firm Wildlife NI's contract with the DoE was also ended as the department investigated claims in the film and Sonya was taken from him.
Elder fought his eviction on the grounds that he was not given enough notice to leave which he won in 2015.
A hearing was due to be held in May the following year to decide the level of damages he should receive from the USPCA but it never went ahead after a confidential settlement was agreed.
While there are no longer any big cats in private hands in Northern Ireland following the change in the law, dangerous and exotic pets are still held under licence by more than 20 people across the province.
The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) has on record 90 such creatures in private ownership, as of 2019.
They include one example of the inland taipan, the most venomous snake in the world, whose bite can kill a human in as little as 30 minutes.
Other poisonous snakes held here include rattlesnakes and cobras, while the most dangerous mammal on the register is a wolf.