Tiger Cubs Heartbreakingly Abused Before Being Used as Photo Props

Another recent investigation released by PETA highlighted the heartbreaking cruelty behind a popular tourist activity: playing with baby tigers.

The footage, which was obtained by an eyewitness who worked and volunteered for Dade City’s Wild Things (DCWT) in Florida, has exposed cubs being torn from their mothers far too soon, along with bringing to light rough handling and blatant abuse.

Despite protesting cries and struggles of cubs, they were also forced to endure encounters with paying customers multiple times a day – all while the facility’s owners continued to spread misinformation about their operation.

According to PETA, “A tiger cub named Ariel, who suffered from an apparent spinal deformity or neurological disease and could not hold her head straight, was repeatedly made to swim, including once for more than a 10-minute stretch, during which she panicked and was unable to keep her head above water.”

The facility solicited donations for her care, but later came under fire for using two different cubs in the before and after videos showing improvements.

There’s a very small window for exhibitors to legally allow members of the public to handle cubs, and once they become too big to safely handle they’re no longer useful. Tigers at DCWT who outgrew their cuteness were left to sit in cages, or sent to other questionable facilities. Sadly, the tigers weren’t the only ones suffering here. Other untreated illnesses and injuries of multiple other animals, including a black leopard, a opossum, primates, deer and birds were also observed. Some who were left to suffer without care didn’t survive.

Yet more offensive still is the fact that this is the second investigation that has brought to light cruelty at this facility, which was already in trouble with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Despite warnings from federal officials to stop violating the Animal Welfare Act, the facility did nothing and was exposed by a previous investigation conducted last year.

The USDA now has a lawsuit pending against DCWT for those violations, and the facility is now facing another lawsuit that was just filed by PETA for violating the Endangered Species Act, which prohibits harming and harassing endangered species.

“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.”

How to Help

Aside from avoiding facilities like this that exploit animals for profit, you can also help by signing and sharing the petition asking Dade City’s Wild Things to stop forcing tiger cubs to swim with visitors.

For more info on how to help, check out the full investigation at The Dark, Deadly Side of Tiger Cub Photo-Ops.

Photo credit: Thinkstock


Robert N.
Rob Chloe Sam N2 years ago

It was totally heartbreaking watching that, These are wild animals and should be free, Not used for someones entertainment, This type of thing needs to stop now.

Marie W.
Marie W2 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Fi T.
Past Member 2 years ago

Nothing worth sharing

Jennifer H.
Jennifer H2 years ago

Fred, I believe the USDA has enforcement power but that they only use it when the want to. Animal protections have never been a priority for them.

Janet B.
Janet B2 years ago


Angie P.
Angie P2 years ago

This is so cruel and heartbreaking. I agree with others - all the legal red tape is doing nothing to help these animals. I wish someone would grow a set and go in and do the right thing.

Fred L.
Fred L2 years ago

If only the USDA had enforcement power to stop Dade County Wild Things from operating these tiger mills. After two investigations of DCWT exposing animal cruelty, the best the USDA can do is file a lawsuit. Lawyers can make litigation drag on, all while tigers suffer, and DCWT stuffs their pockets with blood money. ~~The love of money is the root of all evil.~~Timothy 6:10

Deborah S.
Deborah S2 years ago

Thank you. Hope they help them

Deborah T.
Deborah T2 years ago

Unacceptable, the sadness in this beautiful, majestic animal is heartbreaking. I cannot find the words that convey my contempt for these abusers.

Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus2 years ago

Thank you for sharing.