Siegfried & Roy Tiger Cub Deaths Prompt Call for Investigation

PETA Asks U.S. Department of Agriculture to Look Into Cause of Infection, Kidney Failure

For Immediate Release:
December 23, 2015

Sophia Charchuk 202-483-7382

Following reports that Liberty and Justice—two tiger cubs used by notoriously exploitative performers Siegfried & Roy—both died of kidney failure last week, PETA is filing a complaint with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) asking the agency to launch an immediate investigation. According to PETA Foundation wildlife veterinarian Dr. Heather Rally, it’s highly unlikely for two young and otherwise healthy cubs to succumb to kidney infection, unless the infections were caused by unusual exposure to a highly pathogenic organism or they weren’t caught and treated in a timely manner.

“Siegfried & Roy have spent decades breeding animals prone to congenital defects for the sole purpose of parading them in front of an audience,” says Dr. Rally. “PETA is calling on authorities to investigate these grossly premature deaths before any other animals die from their negligence.”

As noted by PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—the infections’ underlying cause may also be linked to a functional problem with the kidneys themselves, such as a congenital kidney disease resulting from irresponsible breeding. White and golden tigers like Liberty and Justice are inbred by definition, are prone to injury and deformity, and have no conservation value.

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PETA’s letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture follows.

December 21, 2015

Gibbens, D.V.M.
Director, Animal Welfare Operations
USDA/APHIS/AC Western Region

Via e-mail

Re:       Request for Investigation of Siegfried & Roy for Infant Tiger Deaths

Dear Dr. Gibbens,

I am writing on behalf of PETA to request that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) investigate S & R Productions (license number 88-C-0006) regarding the deaths of two 4-month-old tiger cubs, in possible violation of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA).

On December 18, Siegfried & Roy announced the passing of two of the cubs from the August 5 litter dubbed the “SARMOTI Cubs” (see Photo below). The reported cause of death was from an infection that led to kidney failure.

In my opinion, it is highly unlikely for two young and otherwise healthy tiger cubs to die from a kidney infection simultaneously, unless caused by a highly pathogenic organism, such as leptospirosis, or unless the infections were not caught and treated in a timely manner or with appropriate therapeutics. White and golden tigers are notoriously inbred, and the underlying cause of the kidney infection may even be linked to a congenital disease as a result of irresponsible breeding.

Please inspect the veterinary records of these two cubs and the surviving animals kept by S & R Productions, and ensure that they received and are receiving, respectively, adequate veterinary care pursuant to 9 C.F.R. § 2.40. Please hold Siegfried & Roy accountable for any and all AWA violations that you uncover during your investigation.

Please inform me of the complaint number that the USDA assigns to this correspondence. Thank you for your attention to this important matter.

Very truly yours,

hdr signature
Heather Rally, D.V.M.
Wildlife Veterinarian, Captive Animal Law Enforcement

cc:        Dr. Laurie Gage, Big Cat and Marine Mammal Specialist

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