Target: Brittany Peet, Director of Animal Law Enforcement for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA)
Goal: Applaud community and activist efforts which resulted in the USDA finally shutting down a zoo’s cruel ‘tiger swim’ encounter program.
A private Florida zoo will no longer be able to force young tiger cubs to swim endlessly for the enjoyment of tourists thanks to an order from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), which found that the zoo used excessive and rough handling with the animals. Dade City’s Wild Things charged tourists $200 for the ‘privilege’ of swimming with panicked tiger cubs, who were often dragged into the pool by their limbs or lowered by their tails. It was clear that the cubs did not benefit from these encounters, but the true extent of the abuse remained largely unknown for years.
In an undercover investigation, PETA showed the attraction as being both horrific and dangerous for the tigers, who were often as young as six weeks old and had been torn away from their mothers just hours or days after birth. The investigation revealed that cubs were routinely smacked and yanked out of their cages before being made to swim until they could no longer hold their heads above water. Videos showed that the cubs were panicked and desperately paddling so as not to drown. In at least one instance, a newborn tiger was found dead.
Thanks to PETA’s efforts and for petitions such as this one on ForceChange, the USDA has finally clamped down on Wild Things on the basis that the zoo had violated the Animal Welfare Act. According to the USDA’s order, Wild Things must now pay a $21,000 fee and have its exhibitor’s license temporarily suspended. The zoo will also no longer be able to offer its tiger swim program, which will spare cubs from facing this trauma in the future. PETA is hopeful that its pending lawsuit against the zoo, alleging that encounters like the tiger swim violate the Endangered Species Act, will prevent future instances of cruel animal exploitation for entertainment purposes.
While zoos, particularly private ‘roadside’ attractions such as Wild Things, are not where wild animals like tigers belong, they must continue to be held accountable for ensuring that the safety and well-being of captive animals comes before profit. Sign this petition to applaud PETA’s role in helping to shut down this cruel and dangerous attraction.
Dear Ms. Peet,
PETA’s work to uncover the abuses occurring at Dade City’s Wild Things, where young tiger cubs were forced to swim with guests, was eye-opening and instrumental in generating the public outcry needed to get this attraction shut down. I thank you for tirelessly championing for the rights of these tiger cubs, who were subjected to cruelty and made to literally swim for their lives for selfies with tourists. It is sickening that this was allowed to go on for as long as it had, but I am grateful that you have fought so hard to bring this program to an end.
At a time when the USDA has been criticized for recent moves that appear to endanger animal welfare, I thank you for continuing to push the department to do the right thing and to ensure that acts of cruelty against animals are brought to justice. I applaud you for taking a stand for these young tigers and am hopeful that more will be done to crack down on zoos that exploit animals and put them in harm’s way.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Lila Frerichs