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STOP Swimming with Tiger Cubs

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"Be the change you wish to see in the world" ~Mohandas Gandhi
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Originally Posted: October 12, 2012

STOP Swimming with Tiger Cubs

FROM Big Cat Rescue and Earth in Transition


Public contact with lion and tiger cubs in this country needs to stop. Tell ABC to stop glorifying animal abuse and tell the USDA and Florida's Wildlife Commissioners to SHUT DOWN animal abusement venues.

Sign an online petition (copy/paste URL into your browser):

And/or better yet, make direct contact:

ABC Good Morning America
online contact form:

Florida Wildlife Commission
620 S. Meridian Street
Tallahassee, FL 32399-1600
phone (850) 488-4676

USDA, APHIS - Southeastern Regional Office
1498 Klondike Rd. SW, Suite 200
Conyers, GA 30094-5169
phone (770) 922-7860
fax (770) 483-9000


From Big Cat Rescue:

How can anyone view the Good Morning America story about Dade City's Wild Things roadside zoo that aired nationally on October 10, 2012 and NOT be disgusted and upset? How can anyone watch the tiny six-week-old tiger cub named Tony screaming in misery as he is forced to swim with guests and then a reporter in a swimming pool at this backyard zoo in Dade City, Florida and NOT want to take action to stop this blatant exploitation?

The REAL question is how can the Florida Wildlife Commission (FWC) and the USDA be aware of the "swim with tiger cub encounters" at Dade City’s Wild Things for the last TWO YEARS and not shut them down? Big Cat Rescue has repeatedly filed complaints with both governmental agencies about this issue and many others at this backyard zoo, which has the gall to claim to be a sanctuary and rehabilitation facility for wildlife!

So far our complaints to both agencies have seemingly fallen on deaf ears. Yet the FWC recently stated that children swimming in pools with young alligators whose mouths were taped shut was wrong. Huh? Swimming with alligators is wrong but swimming with tiger cubs is ok?

Well, finally, the national exposure Dade City's Wild Things received on Good Morning America has backfired on them: thousands of animal lovers from around the country and the world have seen the broadcast and are incensed. Big Cat Rescue has received hundreds of calls, emails and posts on our Facebook page since the story aired. People are outraged and want to SHUT THIS DOWN! 

From Earth in Transition:

Swimming with Tigers. WTF!

It's bad enough holding dolphins in captivity so people can pay to swim with them. And it's bad enough that baby alligators were being brought to children's parties and being dropped into swimming pools with their mouths taped shut so that the kids could swim with them and pet them.

But now there's a new craze going around in Florida: Swim with a Siberian tiger cub.

Siberian tigers are solitary animals who roam the vast wilderness of northeast Russia. Thanks to poachers who sell them for quack medicine and floor rugs, there are very few left. But nothing could be more alien to a Siberian tiger than to be at a zoo in subtropical Florida, forced to swim with children whose parents pay $200 for a 30-minute "experience" at Dade City's Wild Things.

The story comes to us from Good Morning America as the hosts chat with the show's supposed expert, Matt Guttman, all dressed up in a hunky wetsuit as he tries to restrain a clearly distressed six-week-old tiger cub who's paddling frantically toward the side of the pool. George Stephanopoulos seems to think it's all hilarious. What are these people thinking?

Guttman even justifies the whole sorry business by saying it's safer for people to be in the water with a tiger (because she's preoccupied with swimming) than to be interacting with her on land. What are we supposed to make of this wildlife wisdom?

Animal protection groups call the whole thing abusive and dangerous to the animals.

"The cubs are awakened repeatedly for anyone who will pay to pet them or take photos with them," said one critic on 911 Animal Abuse. "Cubs don’t like holding still for petting sessions and photo opportunities. The swimming solves that problem … because the cub has to swim for dear life."

The zoo says that Siberian tigers are good at swimming. And it's true that their paws are well adapted to swimming. But in a chlorinated pool in Florida with an audience of families and squealing humans?

In September 2011, the U.S. Department of Agriculture issued a warning citation to Dade City’s Wild Things last year for a number of violations, including an incident in which a handler forced a tiger cub into a swimming pool after the animal appeared hesitant to enter the water. When the animal tried to get out of the pool, the handler forced it to keep swimming. According to the report:

The cub swam towards the handler located at the pool wall and extended its paws towards the edge of the pool apparently wanting to get out of the pool. Instead of pulling the cat out of the water and stopping the encounter the handler decided to continue with the swimming.

Oh, and if you've had enough of swimming with the tigers, you can hop into the pool again with an alligator whose mouth has been taped shut. What a thrill.

Last week, finally the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission decided to put a stop to having alligators available at pool parties at private homes, but you can still swim with them at a zoo. 

Thank you for everything you do for animals!