Why Is Ringling Buying Tigers From Seedy Roadside Zoo?

Published by Jennifer O'Connor.

Countless tigers have suffered and died at an Oklahoma roadside zoo called The Garold Wayne Interactive Zoological Park. Operator Joe Schreibvogel is currently the subject of three U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) investigations, including for the deaths of more than two dozen tiger cubs in a seven-month period—and now PETA is asking the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to investigate this outfit and Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus for possibly violating the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA).

In 2012, Schreibvogel reportedly sold eight tigers—who are protected under the ESA—to Ringling Bros. But the law prohibits selling, delivering, transporting, or receiving endangered species in the course of commercial activity (and that’s what roadside zoos and circuses are).

An Inside Edition undercover investigation detailed that the USDA has cited Schreibvogel multiple times for violations of federal animal-protection laws, including more than 60 willful violations in 2006 alone. The roadside zoo previously had its license suspended and paid a $25,000 fine.

And Ringling Bros.’ appalling history of tiger abuse includes an incident in which a trainer fatally shot a tiger who was locked in a cage. During PETA’s 2009 investigation of Ringling, a tiger trainer was seen hitting tigers over and over again. When a tiger named Kitana hesitated during a rehearsal, the trainer reared back and, apparently with all his might, hit Kitana four times with what looked to be a rod or club.

When not on stage or being beaten during Ringling’s training sessions, tigers spend nearly every minute of their lives confined to cramped cages, ceaselessly pacing back and forth. A former Ringling employee reported that numerous tigers aren’t used for performances and are never let out of their cages for exercise. Ringling itself admits that the tigers have access to exercise enclosures only “where space permits”—which likely means almost never.

What You Can Do

Please contact the FWS and urge it to investigate the apparently illegal transaction between Schreibvogel and Ringling and, if violations are found, to seek the maximum penalties, including confiscating the tigers.

Continue to spread the word to family and friends about why they should never support animal circuses or roadside animal displays.

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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind