News that a 23-year-old employee died on June 13 after being mauled by a tiger at a roadside zoo in Peribán, Michoacán, in western Mexico is a tragic reminder of the risks these tourists traps pose to animals and the public—and why they should be avoided.
Video footage shows the employee reaching through a chain-link fence to pet a Bengal tiger at feeding time, and as he strokes the animal’s neck, the tiger sinks his teeth into the employee’s hand and pulls him toward the fence. First responders rushed him to a hospital after the tiger mauling, but he apparently refused to let doctors amputate his mangled hand. As his condition deteriorated, he died of a massive heart attack.
A Life of Neglect
Confined to small, filthy enclosures and denied the space, diverse environment, and freedom they need to thrive, animals imprisoned at roadside zoos are often deprived of adequate food, water, shelter, and veterinary care. Relentless frustration, loneliness, and abuse from the people who are supposed to care for them drive many of the animals insane.
Using big cats and their cubs, primates, and other animals as photo props, the operators of these cruel attractions lure in visitors who may not be aware of how the animals suffer. Many volunteers and workers at such facilities have been mauled.
While baby animals attract customers, those who have grown too big to control or are considered too old are sent away—often to be used as breeders in order to continue the cycle of abuse—or relegated to dingy cages, where they could languish for more than 20 years.
Help Tigers and Other Animals Trapped at Roadside Zoos
Roadside zoos—which sometimes advertise themselves as sanctuaries—petting zoos, and traveling zoos are only in business because people pay to visit them. Please don’t contribute to animals’ suffering. Instead, learn about animals by watching documentaries or observing them in their own habitats.