Many of us have seen them, and some of us have either taken them ourselves, or been envious of those friends that have been able to travel to distant countries and get up close and personal with tigers and lions to get that coveted selfie. Guaranteeing a slew of Facebook likes and comments, this picture is sure to make your friends jealous. But at what cost does it take to get this selfie? Surely these lions and tigers are trained in such a way so they won’t attack in order to ensure your safety as the tourist. But is it really worth it?
Lions and tigers that are used at tourist attractions are often heavily sedated, trained using violence as a means of control, and the baby cubs are taken from their mothers at just a few weeks old. The babies don’t even get to drink their mother’s milk after this and are instead fed a milk substitute so that the hoards of tourists have a chance to feed the baby cubs out of bottles, for yet again another ‘adorable’ photo op.
You can’t necessarily blame the tourists, though. Most people are ignorant to how these animals are being treated and just assume it is with with love and care. The fact of the matter, though, is that anytime you are taking animals out of their natural habitat and restricting them to living in cages and doing tricks, you better believe that there is something wrong with this picture, and by no means did those animals walk into the cages, enclosures, and zoos willing to be a part of this money making machine designed to profit off of tourists.
The following video shows footage from Dade City’s Wild Things, a popular animal attraction park, and how the staff was mistreating the animals there. Cubs were being jerked around by the leash, dragged by the neck, hit, grabbed and even tossed into a pool; there are other clear instances of abuse and neglect.
VIDEO: Animals Being Abused At Dade City’s Wild Things
What Has Been Done?
People For The Ethical Treatment Of Animals (PETA) have filed a lawsuit alleging that the roadside zoo is in direct violation with the Endangered Species Act. This act prohibits harming and/or harassing protected animals and an undercover PETA worker who volunteered at DCWT in 2015 and 2016 and found that the tiger cubs had been forced into encounters with customers a few times a day even when they resisted and cried out.
As the video shows, one cub was struggling to keep her head above the water during a training session and was forced to swim for more than 10 minutes even though she appeared to have a spinal deformity or neurological disease. Cubs were removed from their mothers within hours or days after birth.
“Dade City’s Wild Things is churning out tiger cub after tiger cub to be manhandled and exploited as props in photo ops and then left to suffer in barren cages,” said PETA Foundation Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Brittany Peet. “PETA is calling on the public to refuse to support this cruel tourist trap’s abuse and exploitation of endangered animals.”
What Can You Do?
If you are someone who is appalled by what you saw and you would like to help and give a voice to the voiceless, the first step is to absolutely stop supporting companies such as these. If they are profiting off of the exploitation of animals then you can almost guarantee that they are being mistreated in some way. Help to spread the word — many people are simply unaware of what goes on behind closed doors; share this information with your friends and family. Next time you see one of those popular lion or tiger “selfies” use that as your chance to educate your friends. You don’t have to be rude, just offer this information that they may have otherwise been unaware of.
Because of activism and awareness, popular travel site TripAdvisor has recently announced that they will halt ticket sales to all cruel wildlife attractions and will soon offer an education portal for readers to access on what it means for animals to be treated in a humane way. It is so important to remember that we absolutely can make a difference in the world and a great way to do that is by standing up for what you believe in, voting with your dollar, and by raising awareness about issues such as these!
Read More: The featured photo from this article was taken by a writer from popular media website, Truth Theory. In the article below she shares her experiences about getting this photo and what she was able to uncover by doing so!
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