State Fair Tiger Exhibitor Violates Federal Law

PETA Calls for Charges After Abusive Exhibitor Marcus Cook Sets Up Tiger Display Despite Permanently Revoked License

For Immediate Release:
September 10, 2014

David Perle 202-483-7382

Huron, S.D. – This morning, PETA sent an urgent letter asking the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to pursue criminal charges against disgraced big-cat exhibitor Marcus Cook after learning that he apparently illegally displayed tigers at the South Dakota State Fair from August 28 to September 1. Cook’s exhibitor’s license was revoked after the USDA charged him with nearly 100 violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA).

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—is also urging the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) to investigate possible violations of the Endangered Species Act since evidence suggests that Cook sold protected animals without a permit. PETA is also asking the FWS to investigate Cook, who transported tigers into South Dakota and at least a half-dozen other states to use in displays, for possible violations of the Captive Wildlife Safety Act, which prohibits interstate transport of big cats by anyone without a USDA license.

“It appears that nothing short of prison will stop Marcus Cook from dragging tigers around the country in blatant defiance of federal authorities,” says PETA Foundation Deputy General Counsel Delcianna Winders. “PETA is calling on the authorities to ensure that Cook stops illegally subjecting terrified big cats to large crowds, excessive handling, and the constant deprivation of captivity and transit.”

Among dozens of other incidents, Cook’s long history of AWA violations includes using a cattle prod to stun a tiger, keeping animals in tiny and unventilated enclosures, and denying tigers, cougars, and a bear cub adequate water. In early 2009, the USDA took the rare action of seizing a lion and two tigers who were starving. Four months later, the agency seized three sick white lions, two of whom were underweight and had open sores.

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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