We can understand part of the appeal behind wanting to get up close and personal with wild, exotic beasts like tigers. They are powerful but beautiful, and sometimes, they remind us of giant versions of the cats who live with us at home. Unfortunately, these big cats are rarely treated with the respect that they truly deserve.
While tigers in the wild are losing their territory due to human activity at an alarming rate, captive tigers are routinely subjected to being used as props for human entertainment in a number of ways. There is the infamous Tiger Temple in Thailand, where these big cats bred to be used as tourist attractions are beaten and deprived of food until they are complacent. In the United States, tigers are bred and then have their cubs stolen from them so paying customers can feed, handle, take photos with, and swim with these babies. It’s possibly even worse for tigers in the traveling entertainment business, like the young Bengal in the video above.
The video was shot at the scene of the Pensacola Interstate Fair at the Pages’ White Tiger Show, a company that has toured with Ringling Brothers Circus. In the footage, trainer Vincenta Pages is suddenly pushed down by one of her tigers. She escaped with only a few scratches, but only because this was by no means a full-blown attack. As tough as it is to sit through the full video – especially when another trainer comes to Pages’ aid by beating the young tiger into submission while children watch – it is a powerful example of why tigers, and other wild animals, do not belong in captivity. As “tame” or as “well-trained”captive animals may seem, the fact remains that this horrific scene would have never happened if the tiger was never forced into this unnatural environment.
As long as we hold these animals in captivity and force them to perform tricks, future generations will never learn how wild animals deserve to be treated. But we can do better. By choosing to boycott fairs, attractions, and any place that has a wild animal show, we can send the message that we think these animals deserve better.
Lead image source: Scott Caputo/YouTube