Caught on Video: Tiger Cubs Smacked, Yanked, Thrown at Dade City’s Wild Things

PETA Files Lawsuit Arguing That Tearing Tiger Cubs Away From Their Mothers to Use as Props in Photo Ops Violates the Endangered Species Act

For Immediate Release:
October 20, 2016

Contact:
David Perle 202-483-7382

Dade City, Fla. – Armed with new video footage from an eyewitness investigation revealing that Dade City’s Wild Things (DCWT) staff jerked tiger cubs by the leash, dragged them by the neck, and struck, grabbed, and tossed them, even into a pool, among other instances of abuse and neglect, PETA has filed a lawsuit alleging that the roadside zoo is in violation of the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

The ESA prohibits harming and/or harassing protected animals—and a PETA eyewitness who worked and volunteered at DCWT in 2015 and 2016 found that tiger cubs were forced into “encounters” with customers multiple times a day, even as they resisted and cried out. One cub struggled to keep her head above water during a training session as she was forced to swim for more than 10 minutes despite an apparent spinal deformity or neurological disease. Workers removed tiger cubs from their mothers within hours or days after birth. The eyewitness also documented that primates engaged in self-harm, several animals died suddenly, and other animals were denied adequate veterinary care for longstanding illnesses.

“Dade City’s Wild Things is churning out tiger cub after tiger cub to be manhandled and exploited as props in photo ops and then left to suffer in barren cages,” says PETA Foundation Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Brittany Peet. “PETA is calling on the public to refuse to support this cruel tourist trap’s abuse and exploitation of endangered animals.”

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—is taking aim at the captive tiger overpopulation crisis in the U.S., which is fueled by the huge demand for tiger cubs for photo ops and public encounters. While wild tiger populations dwindle, there are untold thousands of captive tigers being held in facilities like DCWT, none of whom could ever be released into the wild. Tigers too old at DCWT to be used in “encounters” were kept in cramped, barren cages or sent to other roadside zoos and, on at least one occasion, to a private party; that cub was later found wandering loose in Texas.

Broadcast-quality footage is available upon request. For more information, please visit PETA.org.

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“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