Tiger cubs are adorable and the desire to pet or take a photo with one is understandable, unless you know the dark underside of this seemingly innocent activity.  Contrary to the claims of the exhibitors, cub petting results in a life of misery for the animals, both as cubs and later as adults, and actually has a negative impact on conservation.  So please do not “pay to play” with tiger cubs and help us educate others not to support this abusive exploitation.


The cubs are ripped from their mothers at birth and are physically punished to diminish their natural behaviors.  They are deprived of the mother’s milk that has disease preventing antibodies not found in bottle fed formula. Their sleep is also repeatedly interrupted for petting and photo ops, which further lowers their fragile immune systems.

What Happens To Them When They’re Too Big To Pet

Cubs can only be used for petting and photo ops for about 12 weeks before they could take off a child’s finger.  At this young age, the cubs have undeveloped immune systems and there is no record keeping of how many die.  If they survive, they typically end up living in tiny, barren cages.  The females are often bred unnaturally soon after birth (in the wild they raise the cubs for 2-3 years before conceiving again).  This unnatural repetitive breeding is believed to lead to reproductive cancers.  Once they’re too old to breed, they may be killed and sold on the black market for their lucrative bones, fur, eyes, whiskers, teeth, claws and heads.

How Cub Petting Hurts Conservation In The Wild

Not only is there no conservation value to the breeding and no conservation education associated with cub petting, but it actually negatively impacts conservation in the wild in two ways.  First, it sends entirely the wrong message by misleading people into believing that keeping inbred tigers or mixed subspecies in a small cage is “conservation” so we do not have to worry about them going extinct in the wild.  Second, the rampant breeding for the petting and lack of tracking of tigers in the U.S. diminishes the credibility of the United States in the international community when we oppose the “tiger farming” in Asian countries that leads to more poaching of tigers in the wild.

Would you support a ban on cub petting?