Statement: IFAW Calls Foul on Detroit Tigers Photo Op

Credit: Carlos Osorio, AP
Monday, 1 April, 2013
Washington, DC

This past Friday, the Detroit Tigers organization posted photos on its Facebook page of its star players handling a tiger cub at a spring training camp.

Tracy Coppola, Campaigns Officer, International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW;, issued the following statement regarding the event:

“Undoubtedly, the Detroit Tigers, like so many other animal enthusiasts in the U.S., did not realize the photo op presented some fairly significant public safety and animal welfare issues.

Handling a wild big cat is not a game and treating them like a ‘pet’ poses extreme risks. In the past two decades, U.S. incidents involving captive big cats—tigers, lions, cougars, leopards, jaguars, cheetahs and other species—have resulted in the deaths of 22 humans and nearly 300 human injuries.

Additionally, dozens of U.S. traveling zoos and roadside exhibitors—like the Dade City's Wild Things Zoo, which was responsible for providing the cub for the photo op—profit from charging the public a fee to pet and pose with tiger cubs and other large big cats. After the cubs grow too big and dangerous for handling, all too often they could be kept in someone's backyard; bred incessantly to further fuel the cub handling trade, or even be killed. 

This is why passing the Big Cats and Public Safety Protection Act—a nationwide ban on private big cat ownership and breeding that will soon be reintroduced in Congress—is so important.

As opening day kicks off, millions of fans from all over the nation will flock to stadiums to cheer on their favorite baseball heroes. Many of these fans are children who look up to the athletes as role models and emulate their behaviors.  The Detroit Tigers now have an opportunity to use their mascot and national voice to educate people about the dangers of big cat ownership and pledge that they will, in the future, choose not to pose with tiger cubs because they would never knowingly want to support an industry that thrives off the exploitation of this species.”

About IFAW (the International Fund for Animal Welfare)
Founded in 1969, IFAW saves animals in crisis around the world. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW rescues individual animals, works to prevent cruelty to animals, and advocates for the protection of wildlife and habitats. For more information, visit Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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Dr. Maria (Masha) N. Vorontsova, Regional Director, Russia & CIS
Regional Director, Russia & CIS
Gail A'Brunzo, IFAW Wildlife Rescue Manager
Wildlife Rescue Manager, IFAW HQ
Grace Ge Gabriel, Regional Director, Asia
Regional Director, Asia
Vivek Menon, Director of IFAW partner, Wildlife Trust of India
Senior Advisor to the CEO on Strategic Partnerships & Philanthropy