A now-viral selfie taken by a woman holding a tiger’s testicles at a tourist trap in Thailand is just an extra-twisted example showing that using animals for photo ops is wrong. While this incident has many people up in arms, tigers at roadside zoos in our own backyard are also being harassed in equally disturbing ways—and PETA is closer than ever to ending this abuse.
A pervert female tourist cradles the testicles of a six-year old male tiger at Tiger Kingdom Mae Rim in Chiang Mai. She posted this on social media with a caption that implied she had squeezed them. DO YOU KNOW HER?#AnimalAbuse #idiots #tigers pic.twitter.com/MprC2d9MLZ
— Leopardette (@Leopardette1) August 31, 2020
The tiger—apparently a prisoner at Tiger Kingdom in Chiang Mai—may have been drugged during the harassment, according to reports, which would explain why the big cat (an animal who would typically react aggressively if threatened) appears suspiciously unfazed in the photograph. The woman was permitted to fondle the tiger’s testicles and take a selfie by Tiger Kingdom staff, who apparently defended their actions by claiming that they had warned the woman of the risks before letting her enter the tiger’s cage.
Here in the U.S., tigers are paraded around at parties, used on movie sets, and shoved next to roadside zoo patrons’ faces for a photo, all for a quick buck. Tigers exploited at roadside zoos are torn away from their mothers when they’re just weeks or sometimes days old, which is done in order to “acclimate” the cubs to handling for photo ops and other types of abuse.
They exist in a living hell, one in which they experience constant stress, anxiety, and agitation.
What about the tiger in the viral photo? He never got the chance to consent dissent.
According to Vice, the woman posted the photo to social media and implied that she’d squeezed the tiger’s testicles, too. “Pray in your heart and squeeze hard then you will be free from suffering,” her caption reportedly read.
No tiger wants to be touched anywhere on their body by humans, and it’s true that many captive big cats are drugged or beaten into submission and chained so that tourists can take a cheap photo or touch them. Millions learned by watching Tiger King just how victimized tigers used for tourism are, and many took to Twitter to express their outrage and speak out against the “humiliation” that this particular tiger was forced to endure:
“Why is the zoo allowing this animal humiliation? Another good argument against the existence of zoos,” one Twitter user wrote.
“The Tiger didn’t consent to being grabbed there,” another person on Twitter aptly pointed out.
PETA Asia got in on the action, too, reminding folks that “[a]nimals are NOT selfie props. NEVER visit any zoo, circus, or facility that exploits animals. Every ticket purchased sentences these animals to a lifetime of exploitation.”
And it’s true—we didn’t need this selfie-taking, testicle-grabbing tourist to remind us that at roadside zoos and other tourist traps like this one in Thailand, animals always suffer. A bear—chained around the neck—who cried out while being forced to pose for photos with children at the Great Bear Show in Washington spoke to this in 2018. So did a woman who sneaked into the Tiger Truck Stop in Louisiana last year and bit a camel’s testicles after the animal—apparently feeling threatened—sat on her. And 2016’s viral video apparently showing a heavily sedated lion at Taman Safari Indonesia who was forced upright for tourist photo ops was more than anyone should’ve needed to give such shoddy facilities two thumbs down.