A “show”, called the Amazing Rainforest Experience, is run by Robert Mullen of the Orlando, Florida–based PM Productions Entertainment Inc., a production group that features traveling shows with a host of exotic animals.
Hundreds of visitors have complained the tigers appear severely emaciated, with prominent spines and hip bones. The cats also appeared lethargic, or even drugged. One described them as “skeletons.”
Julie Hanan, of the Minnesota-based Wildcat Sanctuary, told The Dodo that her group has been flooded with “desperate pleas” from people who’ve visited the fair and were shocked by the state of the animals.
Abbie Knudsen, a biologist with Missouri’s National Tiger Sanctuary, has heard similar concerns from the public. “I have heard tons of accounts from people that have seen the animals, and visited the animals firsthand, that they do not look in good body condition,” she said.
Despite concern from both the public and big cat conservation groups the Missouri State Fair said that the tigers were being regularly inspected, implying that the animals were in satisfactory condition: “In accordance with the State Fair’s Animal Care policy, all animals and livestock shown, housed or displayed, shall receive care that is healthful and consistent with accepted husbandry practices and the rules and regulations set forth by the Missouri State Fair. This policy applies to animals in entertainment acts, such as the Amazing Rainforest Experience, as well. The Missouri Department of Agriculture state veterinarians monitor the tigers twice per day. These practices reflect the care and concern that Missourians have for livestock, poultry, companion animals and wildlife. ”
The state of the tigers raises concerns about food deprivation, a common method used by trainers at circuses to keep animals in line. “Of course we can’t speak to the exact issue with this exhibitor, but we have seen in the past that they will tend to keep cats hungry to perform,” Hanan said.
In an interview with a local outlet, Mullen said that he fed the tigers 13 to 14 pounds of chicken daily. Both Bass and Hanan said if this is all the tigers are getting, the diet is insufficient: They would need more food, as well as red meat, bones and organs, to thrive.
Whatever the reason, it’s evident from the photos that the animals aren’t healthy. In one photo that shows a tiger on his hind legs, the ratio between the animal’s waist and his hips is disturbing.
This mistreatment by the “Amazing Rainforest Experience”, is not new. A 2013 video released by the International Fund for Animal Welfare appears to feature the same company and shows several disturbing interactions between a trainer and the cats.
When a tiger initially tries to exit the stage, the trainer deters him and the animal listlessly makes his way through his routine. When the trainer later tries to shut a door on him, the tiger takes a swipe at him.
Another scene features a severely underweight cougar, his hip bones standing out like blades. When he’s reluctant to leave the stage, the trainer grabs him by his collar and literally drags him out as he resists.
If you find these picture and video disturbing and you want to help, you can let the Missouri State Fair know how you feel, click here: https://www.facebook.com/MissouriStateFair?fref=ts
Wildlife Conservation Film Festival
& Biodiversity Conference
Christopher J. Gervais, FRGS
Founder & CEO
LinkedIn: Wildlife Conservation Film Festival
Wildlife Conservation Film Festival, Inc.