File this one in the “Near-Death Experiences During My Infancy” section of the family photo album:
This picture was taken at a circus during intermission by a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) inspector who was responding to a complaint that PETA had filed against the traveling bear act. The USDA cited the bear exhibitor for unsafe handling, but don’t count on the federal government to protect you—this reckless handler and many others like her are still in business.
Photo-ops at circuses and traveling zoos featuring captive bears, tiger and lion cubs, primates, snakes, and other animals are all too common, and they’re recipes for disaster. Wild animals are easily startled and routinely act on instinct. These natural instincts can mean that the animals defend themselves with strong arms and legs, sharp teeth, and long claws when they feel threatened. Handlers cannot protect themselves, let alone the general public, from a frightened or angry wild animal. Members of the public, including children, can be and have been harmed during these irresponsible photo-ops. If you see or hear about a show near you in which wild animals are being used for photo-ops with the public, take action to stop it. You could be saving someone’s life.
Written by Logan Scherer