Cubs Bred For Commercial Use
There are many facilities throughout the US, including some that are USDA-licensed, that profit from charging the public to hold, take pictures and interact with big cats. This includes roadside zoos, malls, fairgrounds and other public areas. Even though many states now ban private ownership of big cats, they still do not ban public contact with big cats. Many of these facilities use cubs because they are easy to handle and aren’t a safety threat like the adult cats. This for-profit industry needs a constant supply of cubs, who are often bred for this purpose and taken prematurely from their mother and trained to tolerate human handling. Once these cubs grow too big for handling, they are chained to platforms for pictures or they are discarded to other subpar facilities where they are often abused and neglected. These facilities often claim to be helping conservation efforts. While these facilities may possibly donate to conservation efforts or help raise awareness among the public, they pose too big a danger to the public and they are contributing to the vicious cycle of big cats being bred for commercial use and then discarded to live a neglected and abused life. If owners of these facilities truly cared about these beautiful animals, they would not exploit these cats to make money.
Educating the public about this issue is so important. Many people that pay to pet or hold a big cat do so because they simply love the cat and want that rare chance to interact with it. People do not realize what happens to the cub when it grows up, nor do they realize that by paying to interact with the cub, they are further fueling the industry. By raising awareness among the public, we can decrease demand and put an end to this industry.
In 2003 in Colton, California, authorities raided the home of John Weinhart, operator of Tiger Rescue, a facility that charged a fee for the public to have their photos taken with tiger cubs. What they found was abhorrent: 11 tiger and leopard cubs in the attic, two tigers on the front porch, 58 dead tiger cubs in a freezer, and about 30 dead tigers decomposing on the property. Thirty-nine abused tigers were seized and relocated to the Performing Animal Welfare Society sanctuary and Weinhart was subsequently convicted of child endangerment and animal cruelty and sentenced to two years in jail and five years of probation. This information was taken from the Humane Society.