Death of Circus Tigers

Dear Kevin,

Thanks for running this story on the death of the circus tiger.  By now you have probably concluded that Vasquez’ assumption, “for every person who doesn’t want to see animals in a circus there are a hundred who do” is patently false.  We run random polls on our website and of 10,228 respondents, 89% said big cats should  NOT be made to perform in circus acts.

Should big cats be made to perform in circus acts?
Answers Votes Percent
1. Yes 1077 11%
2. No 9151 89%

I would love to see your newspaper run the same poll because I am sure you would see the same results and would know that it isn’t a matter of our site visitors just being better informed about the subject than most.  It is a growing trend and many countries have outlawed the use of wild animals in acts already because the public demands it.

Animal abusers hide behind the skirts of the USDA and imply that because they haven’t had their licenses revoked they must be doing things right.  Any investigation into the worst exotic animal abuses to be discovered by the press will show that almost all of them were “approved” by USDA.  The real facts are that there are less than 100 USDA inspectors who have to investigate more than 90,000 such businesses and the Animal Welfare Act is sorely outdated.  Inspectors know that if they cite a facility, nothing ever comes of it, because there is no place for the animals to go and USDA doesn’t want to be the one to euthanize the animals.  They also don’t want to be seen as constantly citing terrible conditions and yet doing nothing about it.  USDA only requires that the animal be able to stand up and turn around in their cage.  What kind of cage is that for a tiger who is hard wired to roam more than 400 square miles of territory?  Due to public pressure, USDA has revoked more licenses in the past few years than in the decades before, but often the abusers just continue operating without the license and, again, nothing is done to stop them.

ie:  Dianna McCourt:

Big cats do not belong in cages and the world is waking up to that now.  Circus acts will soon be a thing of the past and future generations will look back in disgust on those who turned a blind eye to the inherent cruelty and suffering inflicted on the planet’s most beloved icon;  the tiger.  The shift in perception towards animals is happening at this very moment in time.  Those who clung to the old ways will be vilified and those who speak out boldly to protect wild animals will be the heroes of future legends.

Find out more about circuses here:

Thanks again Kevin for making the plight of these captive tigers known.

For the cats,

Carole Baskin, CEO of Big Cat Rescue
an Educational Sanctuary home
to more than 100 big cats
12802 Easy Street Tampa, FL 33625
813.493.4564 fax 885.4457

Sign our petition to protect tigers from being farmed here:

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Circus comes under fire after tiger’s death

Comments 4 | Recommend 0

Ramon Vazquez’s annual trip from the Rio Grande Valley to the Pacific Northwest is always long, but it has never been this tumultuous.

As co-owner of Circus Vazquez, which is incorporated in Brownsville, Vazquez has brought his show to cities along the West Coast for more than a decade. But this year, after one of the circus’ six tigers was found dead in its cage in late March, the tour hit its first of many speedbumps. It was discovered that the animal had been attacked and killed by one or more of the five tigers with which it shared a cage.

After the tiger’s death, members of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals took action. They urged fairgrounds to cancel shows at which Circus Vazquez was scheduled to appear.

“Their treatment of animals is absolutely appalling,” said Lisa Wathne, a spokesman for PETA. “It’s difficult to imagine why a fair would allow them to appear.”

Employees at Puyallup Fair & Events Center outside of Tacoma, Wash., where Circus Vazquez is scheduled to appear from May 16-20, have received nearly 2,000 emails from PETA members, requesting that the shows be cancelled.

“(PETA members) are following us everywhere,” Ramon Vazquez said. “But they need to understand-we’re doing exactly what the USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture) asks … These are wild animals and we try to stay in control.”

Circus Vazquez was founded in Mexico City in 1969 and started an American tour in the mid-1990s.

In 2004, the USDA found the circus violated several rules related to the tigers’ living conditions. Since then, its record has been clean.

The USDA’s last inspection of Circus Vazquez on April 28 found no violations of federal animal welfare laws.

Because of the circus’ USDA approval, the Puyallup Fair decided not to cancel Circus Vazquez’s shows.

“Everyone has a right to express their concern,” said Karen LaFlamme, a Puyallup Fair spokeswoman, “but we felt comfortable having them.”

Puyallup Fair’s decision might only intensify opposition to the Brownsville circus. According to Wathne, protests are already being planned in Washington. PETA opposes all circuses that use animals, but Vazquez is “beyond the pale,” she said.

“We respect what PETA wants,” Vazquez said, “but for every person who doesn’t want to see animals in a circus there are a hundred who do.”


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