Wausau Possum Festival Violated Florida Laws

PETA Calls On Authorities to Investigate Annual Event in Which Terrified Opossums Are Captured, Auctioned, and Shaken by Their Tails

For Immediate Release:
September 16, 2014

Shakira Croce 202-483-7382

Wausau, Fla.

The Annual Wausau Fun Day and Possum Festival has been a traditional stop for politicians who bid on the chance to grab an opossum and shake the animal by the tail on stage—and as PETA points out in a letter sent to the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), the exhibition and auctioning off of opossums is illegal.

In its letter, PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment or abuse in any other way”—notes that Florida’s wildlife and anti-cruelty laws prohibit displaying wildlife in a manner that is cruel or otherwise poses a threat to them and that holding and shaking adult opossums by their sensitive prehensile tails can cause permanent injuries such as spinal dislocation, nerve damage, a prolapsed anus, and the rupture of the animals’ largest vein. Many opossums returned to the wild after the event likely die because they can no longer use their tails to climb and engage in other behavior necessary for their survival or because they have succumbed to “capture myopathy”—literally dying of fright.

“Not only is shaking a terrified opossum by the tail in front of a noisy crowd traumatic, it can also cause deadly and debilitating injuries,” says PETA Foundation Deputy General Counsel Delcianna Winders. “Florida law protects wildlife from such blatant mistreatment, and PETA is calling on the authorities to investigate this year’s Possum Festival, hold organizers and participants accountable for violations of state law, and make sure the use of live animals at this event doesn’t happen again.”

The FWC has not issued the required permits to event organizers and auction participants for using live opossums at the event—and as PETA notes in its letter to the FWC, the mandatory requirements for obtaining such permits cannot be met because of the manner in which opossums are abused and mistreated at the event.

For more information, please visit PETA.org.

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