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SOS Rhino : In the News : Readers express anger over article, hunting

Readers express anger over article, hunting


By ALEX LEARY, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published June 10, 2003

The story of Port Richey City Manager Vince Lupo's African hunting exploits, featured in Monday's Pasco Times, was met with harsh criticism from readers.

They were unhappy with Lupo for shooting the animals, and they were unhappy with the newspaper for writing about it.

" The man is an out-and-out killer; you don't have to lionize him," Hudson resident Carl Manzo said. "I'm not objecting to hunting. But he's like an alphabet hunter. He wants to get one of everything."

Jeanne Fainer of Zephyrhills said the article would have been "much better off in a sport magazine that the public would not have to see."

The front-page story described Lupo's quest to shoot the African "big six" - elephant, rhinoceros, hippopotamus, lion, leopard and Cape buffalo - with a lever-action rifle.

Lupo, 61, a hunter since his early 20s, claims to be the first man to accomplish that feat, and his story is featured on the Web site of a bullet manufacturer.

Several readers directed their disappointment directly to Lupo at City Hall. Lupo said he explained to them that meat from the animals is given away and that he obtained proper permits from the South African government.

" I take exception to some of the statements," he said in an interview. "Sport hunting is in the mind of the beholder. My ethics make hunting truly a sport. I pride myself in one shot, one kill whenever possible."

Among the dozen or so phone calls and several e-mails to the Times, readers seemed most irritated with the photograph of a grinning Lupo holding a 220-pound leopard, which he said he killed during a November 2001 safari.

Like most trophy hunters, Lupo documents his conquests. Pictures line his office walls while the taxidermic heads of animals rest in his Tampa home.

" Does killing animals & going after the "big six" make Vince Lupo some type of "big man?" Maria Boucher asked in an e-mail to the Times. "How about going one-on-one with one of those animals sans the gun? Come on Vince, let's see how you fare without that gun in your hands."

Roberta Koontz of Hudson, also in an e-mail, suggested the article's headline - Staying on top of the game - would more accurately read "Vince Lupo Killer - killer of many animals that live on this earth."

" Outraged is probably an understatement," said Sharon Ellingwood of New Port Richey. "This isn't even a sport; they use Land Cruisers."

Monday, Lupo insisted anew that the animals were free-ranging and in some cases were a threat to people or livestock. The leopard, he said, was killing livestock and was scheduled to be exterminated; the elephant, he said, had escaped from a refuge.

He said he understands that some people find his passion objectionable but defended sport hunting as acceptable, even altruistic.

" They have to experience it for themselves, or do a little more reading. It's a mainstay of the African economy. It keeps people employed. It keeps people fed."

Hunting is a nearly $82-million a year business in South Africa, according to African Eye News Service.

Still, that argument is unlikely to resonate with Lupo's critics. "So what if he gave food to the people," said Julie O'Steen of New Port Richey. "What about the money he spent for this? That could have gone to the people."

- Times researcher Cathy Wos contributed to this report. Alex Leary covers the city of Port Richey. He can be reached in west Pasco at 869-6247, or toll-free at 1-800-333-7505, ext. 6247. His e-mail address is

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