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Is cuddling tiger cubs conservation?

Tracey McManus: ‘A lifelong animal lover, Lisa Graham was intrigued when she saw photos on social media of friends cuddling and petting baby tigers at zoos. So she made a trip from Lutz for her daughter’s 11th birthday to Dade City’s Wild Things, wondering what it would feel like that close to a tiger. But when the Wild Things volunteer walked to their picnic table cradling a cub, barely old enough to stand, her excitement turned to pity. The cub, she said, was lethargic, barely moved. She wondered if it was even old enough to be away from its mother. As Graham and her daughter took turns stroking the cub’s fuzzy coat, cupping its face, the volunteer repeatedly reminded them no personal pictures were allowed. “I thought it was a little strange they were so adamant about no pictures being taken,” Graham said. “When we started walking around, I knew immediately why. This is cruel”…

In October 2016, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals sued Wild Things, alleging the zoo’s practice of prematurely taking cubs away from mothers, forcing them to interact with the public and housing them in inadequate cages violates the federal Endangered Species Act. Tiger cubs in the wild wean after about six months but remain with their mothers until they are around 2. Their immune systems are too weak to protect against communicable diseases until 8 weeks old. “They will force the cubs to engage in as many encounters as they can be paid for,” said PETA Foundation Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Brittany Peet. “That’s why we see cubs at (Wild Things) and other exhibitors around the country literally falling over and falling asleep from exhaustion because they’re forced to engage”.’  SOURCE…

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