Seems like we can’t even go a week without seeing another allegation of animal abuse. This time, footage shows trainers at the Hangzhou Safari Park in China using whips to control large white tigers during what appears to be a circus-style performance.

The video, posted online by a Beijing-based animal rights organization, shows one of the tigers biting a trainer’s whip while another tiger gets whipped in the head. The tiger attempting to steal the whip falls backward into a pool and then frantically tries to get out. Other tigers rush over to check on their friend, in what we can only imagine was a terrifying experience. In another scene, one of the tigers can be seen bleeding from the head from an apparent wound. Sadly, it appears that the tigers’ fangs have been removed.

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The original video now has 24 million views, and concerned citizens have been urging the zoo to be shut down and the trainers to be punished. The zoo’s publicity department released a statement denying accusations of abuse but did promise to investigate the incident. There is no denying the truth: the tigers are afraid and do not want to be held captive for human entertainment.

While white tigers are of course beautiful, when you pay to see one, you are encouraging not only the type of behavior seen in the video but also the demand for white tigers in zoos and exotic pet stores. In the wild, white tigers are rare, not because they are an endangered species in and of themselves (they are in fact, Bengal tigers), but because the white pigmentation comes from a genetic mutation. The gene that causes white fur also impacts the animals’ sight and all white tigers are cross-eyed, even if they look normal. Sadly, seeing the appeal of these gorgeous, “rare” animals, breeders have started to mate white tigers, which inevitably leads to rampant in-breeding. This limited gene pool has led to a high rate of health problems and deformities among these captive tigers’ offspring.

There are a number of things that should set off red flags seeing this video. The reality is, tigers are highly endangered in the wild, yet, humans have taken it upon themselves to breed these animals in captivity – then sell and exploit them for the sake of profit. There are currently more tigers in U.S. backyards than there are running free in the wild. This is a massive problem.

If we hope to save the tiger from extinction, we need to educate ourselves about these animals and share the truth. They are not commodities for display, they are not props for selfies, and they certainly are not “ours” at all.

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You can help educate friends and family on the truth by sharing this article. Above all, do not support any theme park that displays a white tiger –or any other animal – for profit, and discourage others from doing so too.

Image Source: Asif Akbar

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