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.
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?