Swimming with tigers? Roaring success? No. A roaring shame.

It’s heartbreaking but true.

A private zoo in Dade City, Fla., is now allowing the public to swim, bottle feed and cuddle with tiger cubs. This is touted as “a roaring success” with customers from as far away as Iceland lining up and paying $200 for this terribly misguided venture.

Some members of the public may think this is a “chance of a lifetime”, but it’s another example of why it’s so important to pass the Big Cats and Public Safety Protection Act (HR 4122/S3547).

First, let’s talk about the tiger’s life.

What happens to the poor cub when he gets bigger, stronger, more dangerous and less profitable?  

That is the big unknown—but all too often, it will come down to this: he will be kept in someone’s backyard; he will be sent to a roadside zoo; he will be incessantly bred to further fuel the cub handling trade; or he will simply be killed.

All miserable and inexcusable options for not only any live being, but one of the most charismatic and imperiled species known today. 

Second, let’s examine the shocking fact that this private zoo is not alone—currently, dozens of U.S. traveling zoos and roadside exhibitors profit from charging the public a fee to pet, play with, and pose with tiger cubs and other large felids. Federal control is essential toward effectively controlling interstate traffic in the species and protecting the public from the multitude of dangers involved.

Third, let’s examine the solutions—and this is where you come into play. The Big Cats and Public Safety Protection Act would prohibit the private possession of big cats unless they are kept at accredited zoos and wildlife sanctuaries. Passing this bill is critically important because it will help eliminate incentives for profit-making operations that result in terrible conditions for big cat cubs and an overpopulation of unwanted animals.

--TC

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Experts

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
Peter Pueschel, Director, International Environmental Agreements
Director, International Environmental Agreements
Vivek Menon, Director of IFAW partner, Wildlife Trust of India
Regional Director, South Asia