USDA tells Dade City's Wild Things to stop making baby tigers swim with people

USDA tells Dade City's Wild Things to stop making baby tigers swim with people
Dade City's Wild Things Facebook Page

After years of scathing criticism from animal welfare advocates, Dade City's Wild Things now has to stop its practice of forcing tiger cubs to swim with visitors.

Animal rights nonprofit People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals announced earlier this week that in the wake of a lengthy investigation for which it called, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has found that the roadside "zoo" violated multiple animal safety and welfare regulations, including "by failing to handle tigers during public exhibition with minimal risk of harm to the animals and the public, and with sufficient distance and/or barriers between the animals and the public" and "periods of time and/or under conditions that were inconsistent with their good health and wellbeing."

The agency ordered the roadside zoo to stop making juvenile tigers swim with visitors to the facility and gave them a $21,000 fine. The zoo may also face suspension of its exhibitor's license.

Other offenses investigators noted include: "Loose electric wire inside [a] lion enclosure," improper drainage in a tiger enclosure, a jagged, rusty pipe in the pigpen, an unsecured pole holding up part of the baboon enclosure and "inadequate shelter from inclement weather for tigers."

The USDA order (which you can read in full here), dated Feb. 15 and only recently obtained by PETA, follows the agency's extensive investigation of Dade City's Wild Things as well as circulation of undercover sting videos showing animal handlers being rough with tiger cubs, emaciated and dead animals in small enclosures and other haunting images.

PETA issued a statement Tuesday applauding the order.

"We're pleased that the USDA clamped down on this most egregious violator of animal-welfare law, knowing that Dade City's Wild Things has been making money by forcing distressed tiger cubs into swimming pools for customer photos," said Brittany Peet, who heads up the PETA foundation's animal law enforcement division, in the statement.

The group has also filed a lawsuit against the zoo, alleging that Dade City's Wild Things is in violation of the Endangered Species Act because it separates tiger cubs from their mothers at a very young age.

"PETA looks forward to proving in court its allegations that Dade City's Wild Things is harming and harassing these endangered animals," Peet said.

CL reached out to the Pasco County attraction, where visitors can swim with baby tigers for around $200, and has yet to hear back. We will update this post with any comments representatives for the attraction wish to make.

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