Petting Lion & Tiger Cubs At Malls & Fairs
The idea of petting and playing with a tiger cub has an understandable natural appeal. The cubs are adorable, and the tiger is one of the most powerful and fascinating of all animals.
What is not obvious at first glance is the months of discomfort and stress the cubs endure, and the miserable life it leads to once they can no longer be used by breeders and exhibitors for these “pay to play” money making schemes.
What is their life like while being carted around for display, and what happens to them after the brief period during which they can be used to make money?
This video shows cubs being displayed in a shopping mall by an exhibitor who drags the cubs from mall to mall in a semi trailer, continuously on the road for months. The cubs have severe diarrhea. Instead of removing the sick cubs from the display, the workers just keep wiping the floor and then wiping the poor cub’s bottoms over and over. You can see the cubs’ red, sore bottoms. Listen to the cubs’ squeals.
The squeals are likely caused by pain as their raw bottoms are wiped repeatedly. Witnesses tell us that at least three of the cubs had diarrhea and were subjected to this treatment continuously during the exhibit. They should have been removed to a quiet place where they could sleep and their immune systems could fight the illness. But in a traveling show like this where would that be? Out in the semi trailer they live in when not caged in the mall? 23 of this exhibitor’s cubs died in 2010. He blames the formula, but no other facilities have reported problems with the formula.
Cubs this age need extended time to sleep, just like human babies. They should be allowed to sleep and awaken naturally. In this mall display, if they do manage to fall asleep amidst the noise and activity, they are awakened so people who pay can pet them.
In this display by a different exhibitor at a fair, an undercover investigator posed as a customer to obtain this video. The cubs are kept in a crib looking adorable trying to sleep. They are then pulled out and awakened each time a customer offers $ 10 to hold them. This went on all day. What would we think of someone who did this to their human infant?
Here on stage the cub wants to pursue its natural inclination to explore, which it would be able to do if it were living in a proper environment instead of being carted around from mall to mall. Repeatedly restrained, it screams in protest.
Here you see the fair exhibitor holding the squirming cub to draw customers. It is not natural for the cubs to be held up by grabbing them under the arms. This exhibitor told the undercover investigator that this is how tiger mothers hold their cubs. How in the world would they do that?
Being held this way for an extended period of time puts uncomfortable pressure on their young bodies as their entire weight is suspended from their armpits. The reason you don’t hear them screaming is because it is difficult for them to breath when held this way.
In this mall display, you can see the cub struggling to get away, clearly uncomfortable. The worker took the struggling cub and told the patrons that she was going to “reset” the cub, admitting the cub was experiencing stress.
This “reset” idea is absurd. This is not a clock or modem that you “reset”. If being held under the arms is uncomfortable, think how much more uncomfortable it is to be bounced up and down repeatedly. The only thing the worker is right about is that the cub feels stress. The worker then blows directly into the cubs face at close range.
Here another worker at the mall bounces the cub up and down, then blows repeatedly in the cubs face.
In this video from the fair, when the investigator comments that the struggling cub does not look happy, the exhibitor says she will “calm him” and, like in the mall video, blows in his face.
Blowing in the cub’s face does not create calm. A mother cat does this to discipline her cub. It is a way the mother tells her cub that it is misbehaving and she is angry. It is a reprimand and a punishment. Take any domestic cat and blow sharply in its face and see what happens.
Blowing in the cubs’ face is done over and over during these exhibits to make the cubs be still for guests. Being still is totally contrary to their natural inclination. It is the opposite of the exploring that they should be doing at this age for their natural, healthy development.
This young white cub is being used in an even more abusive “pay to play” scheme by the same exhibitor who was shown at the fair above. At the zoo where they reside, the exhibitor charges visitors to swim with the cub. The cub is forced to swim from person to person in a pool. This clever scheme avoids the squirming, because the terrified cub clings in fear to each person to keep from drowning.
Here you see the cubs subjected to multiple people groping at them at the same time. This exhibitor recently bragged that he made a record $ 23,697 in five days from the cubs display. Think about how many people would have had to handle these cubs to generate that amount of revenue.
Imagine if you were the mother of these cubs – is this the life you would want for them?
Federal USDA rules say the cubs can only be used for petting and photo opportunities after they have reached eight weeks old and only until they are twelve weeks old. The eight week policy is intended to protect the cubs from disease because they do not get their first vaccinations until that age. This exhibitor told the investigator that the cubs were only three weeks old. This is clearly a violation of USDA rules and puts the cubs in danger of disease. But it is impossible to have enough inspectors to monitor this, so the rules are openly violated. The twelve week policy is intended to protect the public because the cubs become dangerous. Often the cubs are used beyond twelve weeks since this impossible to monitor.
And what happens to these animals after they reach 12 weeks of age and can no longer be used for display? Most will end up spending their entire lives in small cages, many in squalid conditions.
These images are from the zoo that brought the cubs to the fair and forces the white cub to swim from person to person. The zoo does not allow visitors to take photos. These photos were provided by employees concerned about the deplorable conditions. Here you see barren enclosures that have inadequate drainage after rain. USDA has cited the zoo for inadequate shelter and lack of drainage. Employees report that the cats live in the mud and often their own feces for days after it rains.
These images are from facilities of other private owners who breed the cats, display them, keep them as pets, or claim to rescue and provide sanctuary. They are typical of the kind of deplorable conditions these cubs spend their entire lives in after being used to make money for the exhibitors. Many of the cages are little more than concrete and chain link prison cells.
Managers of malls and other venues who permit these displays, often without realizing it, are enabling the abuse of the cubs and a life of suffering for them after they cannot be used for display. If venues refuse to allow these displays so breeders could not make money from these displays, the rampant breeding and abuse would stop. If you see a display like this, or hear of one coming to a mall near you, please stand up for these poor cubs by politely informing the venue of your objection to the display. After people like you voiced their opinions, Petsmart in 2010 banned such displays at their U.S. and Canadian stores, and a growing number of malls and fairs have now banned these displays.
For more information on exhibitors who abuse animals in this way visit http://ow.ly/3gyml. To receive alerts on these and other issues where voicing your opinion can help stop abuse of exotic cats, become an “Advocat” at CatLaws.com. The cats cannot speak. You are the only voice they have.
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