HSUS Calls for Investigation into Tragic Child Mauling in Miami

The Humane Society of the United States Calls for Investigation into Tragic Child Mauling in Miami



December 13, 2006



WASHINGTON – The Humane Society of the United States called upon the United States Department of Agriculture to investigate Wild Animal World of Miami for an incident on November 18 in which a 4 year old child was mauled by a cougar at a birthday party in Coral Gables. The HSUS also urged Florida to prohibit private possession of cougars.


"Cougars are wild animals who cannot be domesticated," said Don Elroy, director of wildlife advocacy for The HSUS in a letter sent Friday to Dr. Elizabeth Goldentyre, Regional Director of the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. "Public contact with these animals should never be allowed, and placing small children at risk is the height of irresponsibility. Our thoughts and best wishes are with the child and her family."


USDA regulations require that during public exhibitions, animals must be handled so that there is minimal risk of harm to the animal and the public, with sufficient distance and/or barriers between the animal and the general viewing public so as to assure the safety of the animals and the public. The cougar in the recent incident was euthanized to test for rabies.


According to court records, Wild Animal World has been cited for previous incidents in which a leopard attacked a child at a company picnic in Broward County and a child was attacked in Coral Gables in 1999. Wild Animal World’s website offers exhibits with public contact with several species of captive wildlife. One picture shows a cougar on a leash within several feet of small children.


"The actions of this exhibitor have shown a lack of concern for these children and for the animals under their care," said Elroy. "In light of the history of violations by this exhibitor we believe that an investigation leading to the immediate revocation of this exhibitor’s license is warranted," Elroy said.

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