Dade City Zoo Criticised By Many But They Deny Everything

Dade City’s Wild Things Zoo advertise to the public that they can swim with a tiger cub for 30 minutes. They appear to swim in a modified version of a swimming pool which is quite possibly chlorinated. I don’t know. Not only is the advert misleading judging by a customer’s comment on the website, the whole process of forcing a tiger cub to swim with customers in the interests of financial gain is being heavily criticised by many people and organisations including People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Zoos swim with a tiger cub money maker
Zoos swim with a tiger cub money maker
Until September 7th I will give 10 cents to an animal charity for every comment. It is a way to help animal welfare without much effort at no cost. Comments help this website too, which is about animal welfare.

It is interesting to comment on this by starting with the customer’s criticism. She says she was deceived because she paid $226 to swim with a tiger cub for a mere six minutes having been promised 30 mins. The six minutes was her share of the time with the cub because there were four other people in the pool with her. The cub must have been handed around from person to person, each getting their allotted six minute slot. A tiger cub should be swimming with his mother in the wild not with humans in a pool in a zoo. Customers who participate in this experience facilitate what is considered by many to be tiger cub abuse.

PETA lobbied the USDA to make a complaint to Dade City’s Wild Things. The USDA says that the zoo has continued to mishandle infant and juvenile tigers; exposing them to injury and harm.

It has been claimed that an employee at the zoo mishandled a cub by lowering the young tiger into a pool by his/her tail, In addition the cub’s tail was pulled to restrain him in the pool and further he was pulled out of the pool by his right foreleg.

In another incident, it is alleged, that a journalist was allowed to mishandle a tiger. The reporter was said to have pulled a young tiger back into the pool against his will after he tried to get out.

A petition has been started and has very nearly met its goal of 330,000 signatures (the current number of supporters is 322,971 at the time of writing this). The petition was started by Sue Lee.

She writes that the administrators of the zoo will vigorously defend criticisms and complaints or legal actions against them:

“We’re going to keep doing it until the Supreme Court or God comes down and says stop doing it.” (believed to have been said by Brittany Peet, a deputy director at the PETA Foundation)

In other words they vow to continue to abuse (by the standards of others) young tiger cubs in the interests of making money until they are ordered by a court to stop. They are adamant that the cubs are not being mishandled. There have been neither injuries to cubs nor the public they say.

We all have our views on this sort of behaviour. The zoo justify their actions by saying that eventually there will be no tigers left in the wild and therefore they have to focus on enhancing their zoo because, at some time in the future, the only tigers on the planet will be in zoos. They are probably right about that but it does not justify abusing tigers for monetary profit. That is my personal view.

In addition, they can say what they like about whether a tiger is stressed or not. But how are they to know if a tiger cub is stressed or not? To an outsider looking in, taking a common sense viewpoint, the zoo’s behaviour appears indecent, immoral, plain wrong and likely to distress juvenile tigers. It is an abuse of this beautiful animal and to do it to young, vulnerable infant tigers is, as far as I’m concerned, reprehensible.

Clearly a lot of people agree with me because if the petition can achieve a third of a million supporters it clearly indicates public opinion is against them. I hope public pressure will force them to take stock and do the decent thing.

There are other abuses of tiger cubs in the US. One example is roadside tiger handling/play/photo sessions. They look awful to me.

7 thoughts on “Dade City Zoo Criticised By Many But They Deny Everything”

  1. There is no such thing as a zoo that lets you play with tiger cubs. I would be curious to know how they manage breeding and the DNA of these cubs. Inbred? Genetic defects ? Tigers are on the verge of extinction. The majority of tigers in private zoos and backyard type exhibits are not viable to help replenish the wild gene pool. Which these fools obviously have confused with a swimming pool.

      • White tigers do occur in the wild. Their coloring however make them unsuitable for survival. The tigers natural coloring lets the animal blend so it can ambush attack. Breeding a mutant color of an endangered animal only serves to make them spectacles side show acts like Siegfried and Roy I always forget which one of them wears the drool bucket these days and backyard pseudo zoos as novelty attractions.
        Whereas the goal of biological parks now have moved away from simply being a display center for living animals in cages to housing them in suitable environments. And I fully support a well run biological park. The ability of the average person to see and connect to these wild animals builds empathy for preserving their right to exist in the wild. Biological parks also keep their breeding stock viable by exchange of animals and AI so animals like tigers are assets if and when the ability to introduce them into the wild exists.
        When ever you breed specifically for one trait or color something nasty eventually piggy backs into your program.

        • I think you’ll find there are no white tigers in the wild. The last one (1951) was a cub (male – Mohan) who is the ancestor of all current white tigers all of which are in zoos.

          I respect your views but I don’t think seeing captive cats in zoos builds empathy for cats in their natural habitat. It just builds a habit that wild cats are seen in zoos. It builds a model of failure and abandons the wild cats in their natural habitat who are left to the activities of big business who destroy their habitat and therefore their lives.

          • It is a mutation. It’s probably happened more than once.
            As a child we had a zoo where the big cats lived in cages that were no bigger than 12×12 and the resident chimp lived in one smaller, wore a hat and smoked cigarettes.
            As to modern bio parks. There is good and bad. I think the presentation has a great deal to do with how the animals are seen. I did see where a keeper had been killed by a tiger here recently. They are never tame. Ever.
            I have learned to put my energy at real problems like private ownership of big cats and so called zoos like the one cited here where you can swim with vulnerable baby tigers. Handling is limited when they are young to prevent exposure to disease.
            No one needs a big cat, bear, or primate as a pet. I count 7 us states that don’t even require a permit.

  2. 330,000 signatures is 0.004% of all possible supporters. That’s not any kind of evidence that “clearly indicates public opinion against them.” Only 4 thousandths of 1 percent is no indication at all.

    And I find it rather remarkable that you would support PETA in this considering they kill all feral and stray cats. Hypocrite much? 🙂

    • You are wrong. To get these sorts of numbers on an online petition is exceptional and it does clearly indicate strong public opinion against it.

      PETA are not perfect. I do differ on some of what they do but they support animals in a world that humans like you make difficult for animals.


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