Tiger Trainer With UniverSoul in Trouble With the Law—Again

Published by Alisa Mullins.

Mitchel Kalmanson, who supplies tigers for the UniverSoul Circus, is in hot water with the law … again. The latest available U.S. Department of Agriculture inspection report details several serious violations, including cramming tigers into cages where they couldn’t even stand upright and calling in a veterinarian with no experience with big cats whatsoever to assess a tiger who was limping. (Kalmanson called only after inspectors saw that the tiger was having difficulty, after having insisted that the cat was fine.) The vet did not even let the tiger out of the cage, much less diagnose or treat her condition. This same tiger was housed with a chain dangling from her neck, something that the inspector rightfully noted could “present a serious risk of … injury or strangulation.”

Keep in mind that the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) is so minimal that it only requires cages to be “large” enough for an animal to make “normal postural and social adjustments.” Kalmanson’s cages did not even rise to that pitiful level. The tigers, who are genetically adapted to roam over vast territories, climb trees, and leap, are getting no exercise at all.

Tip of the Iceberg

Kalmanson already paid a civil penalty of $6,000 in 2008 for two tiger escapes that took place while he was supplying the tiger act for UniverSoul, and in 2011, PETA filed a complaint and included video of a tiger Kalmanson was exhibiting with UniverSoul whose foot was trapped under a sliding cage door. That incident resulted in another two citations for AWA violations. Kalmanson has also been repeatedly cited for additional violations while with UniverSoul, including for failure to supply adequate veterinary care; failure to meet even minimum space requirements for tigers, lions, and chimpanzees (the chimpanzees’ cages had barely half the floor space required); improper food storage; failure to have an exercise plan; inadequate veterinary care records … and the list goes on and on. 

What You Can Do

It’s simple: Never buy a ticket to any circus that still exploits animals. Talk to family, friends, and coworkers, especially those with small children who may be inclined to attend. Explain to them that every ticket purchased is directly contributing to the animals’ miserable lives.

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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

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