Cute Abuse: Tiger Cubs as Photo Props

I call it “cute abuse”. Cute is profitable. Cute makes you feel all fuzzy inside. Cute is good business. The word “cute” should not be used in conjunction with the word “abuse” but sadly this is the case all over America in malls and parking lots. It makes us realize how some people really do lack a sensitivity towards animal welfare. Important note: there are millions of Americans who are deeply concerned about animal welfare.

Tiger cubs used as photo props

Tiger cubs used as photo props. These are screenshots from the video in case the video fails to work. My thanks to Big Cat Rescue. Please visit their website:

People love tiger cubs. You can understand why. They are the cutest of all wild cats. Our attraction to tiger cubs has resulted in unscrupulous people exploiting the tiger for financial profit. Surprised?

There is actual no limit to the human imagination in dreaming up ways to exploit the tiger. Tiger cubs as photo props is at one end of the commercial spectrum. Perhaps tiger bone wine and tiger body parts for medicinal purposes is at the other end because it is gruesome rather than cute. America does cute; China does gruesome. Both exploitations are disrespectful of the tiger and animals in general.

This Big Cat Rescue video explains the problem well:

Tiger cubs can be seen in cages in malls and parking lots across the USA. There must be cars, noise and fumes. Would this be frightening to a tiger cub in a cage?

At first sight, it looks pleasant enough to many people but when you think about it, it is actual raw abuse of a vulnerable and beautiful wild cat species. I am sure cute abuse it not limited to tigers. Lion cubs look extremely cute too. White tiger cubs are particularly cute, which is, actually, abuse piled upon abuse because white tigers are heavily inbred, so much so that some are born with congenital defects. They are probably killed at birth. The same can said for almost all captive wild cats to varying degrees.

People who like to see tiger cubs should really look beyond the cute image. They should think wider, to the business end of the process. I am referring to the breeding programs to create a supply of tigers (see also Tigers for Sale). The cubs are often taken early from their mother, psychologically damaging both and mother. To the business-minded people who use tiger cubs to make money, you can imagine that cat welfare is not their first priority.

People should recognise the fact that cubs are put to work when they are weeks old. It is an animal version of child labour. The cubs are not just used as a photo prop. Sometimes people simply pay to pet and hold the cub.

Using tiger cubs as business opportunities must stop. Local governments need to do more to stop it. I am sure it breaches animal welfare laws of some sort or am I being naive?

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Cute Abuse: Tiger Cubs as Photo Props — 16 Comments

  1. The video is absolutely heartbreaking!
    How much further can some people stoop in the exploitation of animals?
    I can’t find any polite words to describe how this makes me, a lover of ALL cats, feel.

    • It gives the wrong message to kids as well. Lets hope they don’t enjoy the whole photo op thing but they probably do. I can’t believe people don’t complain about it. It gives the impression that people really don’t think much. The fact that zoos can still make money is beyond me. The gloating is horrible. Those poor little babies. Pity is the predominant emotion in this day and age, when it comes to animals. Those babies have been betrayed and will likely live unpleasant lives if they are lucky. I am stopping eating meat – I almost don’t but the time has come to stop again. I did it before for many years and that wasn’t for any reason or philosophy other than it felt healthy and I got used to it and then couldn’t stand the smell of meat so I didn’t want it. Now it’s going to be for a reason or 2 or more. I think some kind of agressive activism is the only way to stop it. Remember when people could wear fur coats. And then it got to a point where they couldn’t because people were objecting and leaving stickers on their backs and so on. That was success in my opinion. If I walked into a mall and saw that I would object verbally and out loud for all to hear. Perhaps that would put off people from doing it and make them think. Maybe if enough people offered some words of disgust everybody would get too freaked out by it and stay away and the tiger cub abusers would have to think of a new business.

      • It gives the impression that people really don’t think much…

        I guess that has to be right. Aggressive activism is definitely well overdue.

        I’d be the first to march. Not that I’m a natural born protester, far from it. I just believe it is time to make a stand on some of these basic problems. It is time for change. I don’t like nothing happening when something needs to happen.

  2. Yes it’s time to take a stand Michael, the difficulty is getting people as passionate as we are to join a protest and we know from the anti declaw protest you arranged at St Louis, that never was, that Americans are not as committed and passionate as the people of our country.
    That 400+ people who promised to attend that protest and then not even one kept that promise, proves it.
    Yes there are many millions of Americans who are deeply concerned about animal welfare but they need to get together and DO something to stop the abuse of animals there or it will never end.

    • So right, Ruth. There is a lack of real commitment and passion. I upsets me because America is by far the most important country with respect to wild cat welfare. It is sad. The USA could do so much more internationally to conserve the wild cats by applying pressure on countries who rely on American business and who abuse the wild cats. America should step up to the plate but they abuse wild cats themselves.

    • That’s not true. I would have come, and my husband as well as my friend Don from Madison, WI and my young friend Emily who recorded Simon’s song with me. I tried to talk Michael into still having it with a few, but he declined. Then the forecast was for 100 degree temps in St. Louis for that weekend, so my husband stated that he would not want to go because he does not deal with heat well (nor do I) and since Michael had cancelled it seemed wise to let it go and look for local venues instead.
      Until the AVMA makes it clear that declawing is never acceptable and until vets actually follow the recommendation of their own professional organization nothing will change. I have paid a high price for my stance against declawing losing friends and family members over it. I’m not welcome for holidays anymore with my family because my aunt insists she will declaw any cat brought into her home, mostly at this point, because she knows it will hurt me terribly to even hear about it. She rubs it in my face and claims I’m too stupid to understand that it’s really no big deal. I’m not a vet after all, so how can I know this is wrong? Her vet will back her up. I offered to buy her a beautiful scratching post– a custom made, expensive work of art really. A guy near Madison makes them. She turned me down in favor of mutilation.
      Americans do care about stopping declawing and both veterinary workers and lay people who stand up against it pay a heavy price for doing so in both social exclusion and ridicule, personally and professionally. It isn’t fair to ignore those sacrifices just because after Michael pulled the plug I didn’t want to travel all those hours to endure 100 degree heat. I printed tons of materials for that protest, money wasted when it was cancelled. I just think most people can’t tolerate summer in St. Louis for a protest and with the economy the way it is most people are just scraping by. That doesn’t mean they don’t hate declawing. Had the protest been scheduled in Milwaukee it would have happened. I could have gotten a hundred people there myself. People like my aunt are the minority and seen as backwards by a lot of people. But they are such a vocal, stubborn minority!

      • Ruth you are a wonderful advocate for cats; really classy. However, despite my best efforts, people who said they wanted to attend the protest on Facebook (they more or less signed up to it) disappeared when the moment came to step up to the plate and start doing it; booking flights etc.. This is not criticizing you or anyone. I have no right to do that. It is the way life is. I do feel, though, it was indicative of a lack of real commitment in America to end declawing, which is apparent anyway because it takes place so widely. Millions of people think it is a good idea.

        I could not spend £1,000 coming over etc. if only a few might attend. I am not that rich 😉 The original announcement was “Are there 100 people who want to march in protest”. I wanted 100 people at least to make it worthwhile.

        Another group took up the challenge, and after the event they announced that a small number attended, which I think deserves a big pat on the back.

  3. There were people protesting the AVMA’s convention in St. Louis. Large numbers of people. Certainly some were people who had planned to join Michael’s protest, but then just protested with the other groups instead when it was cancelled. Local people came out. Just as, if the convention had been in my city, local people would have come out to protest it. I do think the location and time of year cut down on who was going to show up. We really just can’t take that kind of heat because up here we almost never get that, and even when we do, it’s more intense in the south. I was in Indiana once in July and I had a hard time just walking from the car to the motel. Would someone from the south accept an invitation to a football game in Green Bay, WI in December? I think not. There is no way they could sit outside in sub zero temperatures for hours, but I know I could tolerate that with little difficulty.
    The problem is where to direct our efforts. The AVMA convention was a great idea, but do we protest businesses that declaw? We could get sued. Very easily. I am not willing to attack individual veterinary clinics. I have a good lawyer, but still– scary. And I just don’t have deep pockets. They do.
    We keep doing what we can, but just because one protest didn’t happen, that doesn’t mean Americans don’t care. Other protests did take place and many, many people do speak out to family and friends every day about declawing. The word is spreading. Those who want to ignore it will eventually have no choice but to see the evidence.

    • There were only about 7 people there, all from START, no one from Michael’s arranged protest, the pictures and account on their facebook page at the time proved that.

  4. The protest went ahead but only by the START people who invited the people who had volunteered to go to Michael’s protest to go along too, but none attended.
    Michael called his trip over there off because as it got near people started backing out, some pretended they thought it was an on line protest although it was clear it wasn’t because the meeting place etc had been discussed. It wasn’t worth him coming over.
    I know you printed a lot off Ruth, remember I designed the leaflets, we just couldn’t believe that of 400+ people no one was passionate enough to go ahead anyway without him.
    I’m sorry for those of you over there who do care but if it was here, no matter what the weather, we would be out on the streets with tables of educational leaflets, petitions, etc, it’s the only way to stop the suffering of cats being legally abused, the AVMA and greedy vets won’t voluntarily change, it’s down to the people who care about cats to force them to change.


    Note Michael wrote on 18th July 2011:
    Just a short note to say a heartfelt thank you to START – St. Louis Animal Rights Team for turning up and protesting.
    The numbers were small, very small (7) regrettably but it happened.
    The people who protested deserve a lot of praise. I, for one, admire you guys.
    I feel a sadness though that we could not get real numbers to attend.

  6. I still think it is unfair to say no one confirmed with Michael. My friends and I did. I even arranged for a substitute organist for that weekend. Until Michael cancelled we were planning on it. Only after he cancelled did my husband bring up the weather. He really cannot tolerate heat. Every so often he gets taken from work to the hospital because of hear in the summer. When he goes down he goes down hard. After Michael cancelled I felt I had no choice but to honor my husband’s request that we not go.

  7. Sorry but I think it’s sad that someone from another country where the cruel declawing of cats was never done even before it was made illegal, was the true cat lover to arrange the protest and to be let down by the people who said they would go.
    He shouldn’t have had to step forward in the first place, there should be millions in the USA and Canada protesting everywhere, every chance they get, because the very thought of taking away a cat’s claws should fill all cat lovers with passion and determination to stop it.
    Cats will go on suffering until this happens, we in the UK can’t believe it’s been allowed to go on for decades and still going on and it will until people get together and fight for all the cats being legally abused.

  8. Those poor little cubs surely someone there can do something to save them.
    I’ve joined many protests in the past,it’s the only way forward,I’ll do it again in the future as well and if I had the money and no responsibilties here I’d be over there with you Micheal when you say you’d be first to march I’d be your second.
    Yes the anti declaw demo was a total let down,the AVMA must have laughed all the way through their convention that the threatened protest by over 400 people ended up with only 7 animal rights people from St Loius who they could shrug off as Peta freaks.
    Animal abuse will not end while the people there do nothing to end it.

    • Agreed, to stop these things there has to be passion, commitment and real action; not just words on the internet, which are all well and good but not enough.

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