Dade City’s Wild Things Under Fire for Alleged Consumer Fraud

PETA Calls for Investigation of Tiger Exhibitor Soon After Notifying Facility of Its Intent to Sue Under Endangered Species Act

For Immediate Release:
September 27, 2016

Contact:
David Perle 202-483-7382

Dade City, Fla. – This morning, PETA filed a complaint with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services concerning Dade City’s Wild Things (DCWT)—a notorious roadside zoo that subjects young tigers to swimming events and other forced public encounters—and its apparent violations of laws pertaining to consumer fraud and unlawful solicitation.

The complaint cites a video in which DCWT purports to show that it cured a cub of so-called “head-tilt” with swim therapy and acupuncture but which tiger experts say actually depicts two different animals—a deception that could amount to a third-degree felony. PETA also alleges that the roadside zoo recently sought $10,000 in donations from members of the public, claiming that a hurricane had damaged cages, when in fact DCWT President Randy Stearns had damaged the cages himself while trimming trees.

“Abusing tigers is a serious matter, and so is consumer fraud,” says PETA Foundation Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Brittany Peet. “PETA is calling on Florida officials to revoke this facility’s license to pass the hat and file civil and criminal charges as appropriate.”

DCWT’s other apparent consumer-fraud violations include claiming that the roadside zoo required debt relief when it was not in debt—in reality, DCWT Director Kathy Stearns was personally hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt—and claiming that donations to DCWT were tax-deductible, even though the IRS had revoked the organization’s tax-exempt status.

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—recently notified DCWT of its intent to sue the roadside zoo and its principals under the Endangered Species Act. PETA also recently alerted Florida authorities to DCWT’s alleged illegal transfer of a tiger cub to a private citizen in Texas, after the cub was found roaming the streets. In addition, DCWT is facing a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture over numerous violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act, including improper handling of tiger cubs.

For more information, please visit PETA.org.

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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