Dade City’s Wild Things, a private zoo Florida, has been found guilty of numerous counts of animal cruelty including, shockingly, allowing visitors to swim with tiger cubs. The dangerous attraction has since been closed.
According to the Tampa bay times, the USDA made the ruling and ordered the zoo to pay a fine of $21,000 for exposing the tigers to “rough or excessive handling”
It was also determined that Dade City’s Wild Things broke the law four times, by putting people at risk, between September 2011 and October 2012.
The zoo, which encourages people to “get up close and personal” with their animals, boasts on its website: “We pride ourselves on not being a regular old ZOO like the other places you have visited. At Dade City’s Wild Things, we do guided tour where you get up close to the animals have an expert guide with you to answer questions and it allows you more than just a visual experience. And we have a variety of supervised Animal Encounters which allow you to interact with animals like no other ZOO allows.”
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) had previously launched a petition to stop the practice of swimming with tigers; eventually filing a lawsuit alleging the zoo was in violation of the endangered species act. That suit is still pending.
“We’re pleased that the USDA clamped down on this most egregious violator of animal-welfare law, knowing that Dade City’s Wild Things has been making money by forcing distressed tiger cubs into swimming pools for customer photos,” Brittany Peet of PETA told the Times. “PETA looks forward to proving in court its allegations that Dade City’s Wild Things is harming and harassing these endangered animals.”
In July 2015, the USDA also claimed the zoo was violating the Animal Welfare Act after learning that Tigers were being harmed during handling.
Dade City’s Wild Things still promotes swimming with tigers, as well as alligators and otters, on its website.
Source: International Business Times, Dade City’s Wild Things
Photo Credits: Dade City’s Wild Things