Dade City’s Wild Things zoo Exploting Tiger Cubs Like Slaves
For $200 – or a group discount of $700 for a family of four – visitors to Dade City's Wild Things Zoo in Florida can swim in a pool with a terrified tiger cubs.
If you think this sounds awfully cruel, you’re not alone.
Tger cubs at Dade City’s Wild Things zoo are separated from their mothers soon after they’re born. When they become too large to swim with visitors, many of them spend the rest of their lives in small cages with concrete floors.
The USDA is well aware of the mistreatment of animals at this zoo. In 2012, as reported by the Tampa Bay News, inspectors warned the operators to stop violating the Animal Welfare Act by “carelessly forcing tiger cubs to swim in a pool and pose for cameras.”
Inspectors had watched as a zoo employee “lowered a young tiger into a pool by the tiger’s tail, pulled the tiger’s tail in order to restrain it while it was in the pool, and pulled the young tiger out of the pool by the tiger’s right front leg.”
The mishandling of the tiger cubs and other zoo animals resulted in “behavioral stress, physical harm or unnecessary discomfort,” the inspectors reported.
Love This? Never Miss Another Story. Wild Things ignored the USDA’s warning, and for the past three years has continued to offer the tiger cub swims.
“It’s not different than swimming with your toddler, or taking your little puppy in swimming,” the zoo’s president, Randy Stearns, told FOX 13.
Really? If it’s so harmless, then why did the USDA file a lawsuit against Wild Things last month, alleging the zoo operators did not show good faith in complying with the 2012 warning? The zoo “has continued to mishandle animals, particularly infant and juvenile tigers, exposing these animals and the public to injury, disease and harm,” the lawsuit states.
The zoo’s director, Kathy Stearns, says these claims are false and blames PETA for pressuring the USDA into filing the lawsuit. (It was likely also the tens of thousands of compassionate people who complained directly to the USDA, as well as to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, via online petitions.)
Sterns told WFTS the tiger cub swims are actually “for the benefit of the animal.”
Yes, she really said that. “Have you been outside? It’s hot,” she said. “You want to get in the pool. We want to get in the pool. So it’s a really great time for the tiger to have fun.”
It’s interesting that she failed to mention whether the tiger cub wants to get in the pool — which is probably why they often have to dragged in by their tails, as the USDA inspectors witnessed. Seems to me the swims are not for the “benefit of the animal,” but for the benefit of the humans pocketing hundreds of dollars each day by exploiting the animal.
“We pride ourselves on not being a regular old ZOO like the other places you have visited,” boasts the Wild Things website. “We have a variety of supervised Animal Encounters which allow you to interact with animals like no other ZOO allows.”
Perhaps no other ZOO allows Wild Things’ up-close-and-personal interactions with tiger cubs, alligators, gibbons and other creatures because they’re stressful for the animals.
In an effort to continue the tiger cub swims, Stearns told the Tampa Bay News that “on principle,” instead of paying a fine of up to $10,000 for the Animal Welfare Act violations, she is going to fight the USDA’s lawsuit.
“I’m paying thousands of dollars just to put the USDA on trial,” she said.
And guess where those thousands of dollars are probably coming from? That’s right, the wallets of tourists who, on principle (or lack thereof), see nothing wrong with forking over a couple hundred bucks to get to share a swimming pool with a stressed-out tiger cub.
“We haven’t done anything wrong, so as far as we are concerned we are going to keep doing it until the Supreme Court or God comes down and says stop doing it,” Sterns told WFLA.
Or, hopefully, until she loses her case and the USDA shuts down Dade City’s Wild Things – for the benefit of the animals.
Michelangelo Lancianoabout a year agoIt is quite sad that anyone would sign this kind of a petition or write an article promoting it. It is not helpful and does not help the animals or the humans. Swimming with a tiger is NOT a problem. Charging money for it is NOT a problem. The problem is that too many so called animal-lovers and animal-activists proclaim segregation of humans and animals rather than integration.
Ask yourselves, what wild animals that have been domesticated by humans should have been put in sanctuaries and segregated from humans? The horse? The dog? The cat? The goat?
Those so-called animal lovers and activists are simply ignorant, just as anyone who would promote a cause like this. The cause that should be supported is the interaction. If there are needs not being met, help to facilitate them, not destroy the interaction. Be helpful not hurtful.
Animals were not put on this earth to be segregated from humans. What right do humans have to claim land as their own, build fences and define borders and not share with the animals? Then put the animals behind fences of any size and alone? The focus here folks should be on healthy habitats, healthy interactions and not on segregation that only confines animals to areas and land as designated by humans. Isn't that what happened to Native-Americans?