UPDATE: Following an immense public outcry and less than 24 hours after TeachKind—PETA’s humane education division—sent a letter to Christopher Columbus High School regarding the caged-tiger display at its prom, Principal David Pugh II has confirmed to TeachKind that the school will not use wild animals at any future events:
“Our intent is to continue to educate our students to respect wildlife and to protect all animals. We do not condone animal abuse in any way. In the future, we will not include any wild, exotic, and/or endangered animals in any of our school related events and/or planned activities, nor will we use these animals for fundraisers.”
The school took to heart the public’s outrage over its decision to hold a tiger inside a tiny cage at its prom. The school now joins more than 620 venues and dozens of communities across the country that have prohibited wild-animal exhibits, and TeachKind looks forward to an animal-free future at all its forthcoming events.
Originally published on Monday, May 14, 2018:
Video footage of a wild tiger at a Miami high school prom is causing serious outrage. The footage—recorded Friday evening at Christopher Columbus High School’s prom—shows a wild tiger crammed inside a tiny cage, pacing frantically, while a swarm of onlookers gathers around to snap photographs.
A lemur, two macaws, and a fennec fox were also used as photo props for the event, school officials confirmed. Fire-wielding human entertainers performed, too—even though big cats are naturally terrified of fire. Teachers, students, and their families were not impressed—many chimed in online to slam the school for the cruel stunt. Mari-Cris Castellanos, whose brother goes to Christopher Columbus High School and attended the prom, took to Facebook to share her disgust:
“He’s nothing more than an object that people used to amuse themselves in exchange for money,” Castellanos added.
Wild Animals Aren’t Prom Decorations
Castellanos is right. Displaying a tiger in a tiny cage and allowing students to handle a lemur, macaws, and a fox is cruel to the animals and dangerous for the students, and it sends the harmful message that living beings are props to be used for human amusement.
Paying to use big cats and other animals for entertainment means funding the cruel exploitation of animals. Captive big cats are typically forced to live inside tiny, cramped cages, where their basic social and physiological needs are denied. The exhibitors who apparently supplied the animals for this event—Jeremy and Grisel Possman of Miami-based Predators Unlimited—have been cited for animal-welfare violations, including failing to provide animals with safe and secure enclosures and adequate veterinary care.
There’s No Excuse for Such Senselessness
It’s 2018—and thanks to growing awareness and compassion, cruel animal circuses are falling like dominoes. Entire countries are banning wild-animal acts. Yet Christopher Columbus High School somehow thought its cruel, dangerous stunt was acceptable. TeachKind—PETA’s humane education division—sent a letter this afternoon calling on the school’s principal to ban animals from future events. Join us in taking a stand for animals used for entertainment: