The exotic wildlife trade is riddled with corruption and animal welfare violations. Wild cats, like tigers, are often exploited for a profit at roadside zoos and sham sanctuaries. These captive wild animals are used as photo props in exchange for a pretty penny from tourists. To keep a constant supply of young animals to attract tourists, owners of these types of facilities often practice “speed breeding”, which involves separating newborn cubs from their mothers so the cub can be handled and bottle-fed by humans and the mothers can become pregnant again as soon as possible.
A wild animal petting business called A Walk on the Wild Side in Hillsboro, Oregon is a prime example of one of these corrupt organizations that exploits wild animals like tiger cubs. For $30 people can pose with a tiger cub, and for a couple hundred dollars, A Walk on the Wild Side will bring wild cats to birthday parties and events. Once these cubs “age out” after 12 weeks old or so, they are often sold to roadside zoos and private owners.
A Walk on the Wild Side has been under fire for years for numerous violations, and the sheriff’s department reported 83 complaints filed against the business over nine years. The owners of the business, Cheryl Jones and Steve Higgs, moved to a new property that is specifically zoned for farm land only. Jones and Higgs were aware of this but moved in anyway. How have they skirted around the issue of having to be a farm? They have claimed they are a farm because they sell tiger and lion excrement.
The sham sanctuary is listed as a non-profit, but workers have publicly boasted that they are “getting rich” off of exploiting these innocent animals. A Walk on the Wild Side brings in $50,000 a month, but the money does not appear to be given to the care of the animals or upkeep of the facilities, as the animals are reported to be in filthy, cramped cages and unsafe enclosures. Enclosures around adult wild cats are held together by plastic zip ties, and many animals are seen with injuries, often the result of pacing and rubbing against cages, which are textbook symptoms of zoochosis.
To add insult to injury, any one who questions the legitimacy of the business is met with aggression and threats, and one person was even struck by Jones after speaking up for the animals.
There are more tigers in backyards than in the wild today, and businesses like A Walk on the Wild Side are to blame for this egregious exploitation. A petition has been set up to shut this place down. If you agree Jones and Higgs should not have the right to keep these animals, please take a moment to sign this petition to have them shut down.
Image Source: Skitterphoto/pexels.com