PETA wants no more tiger cubs at the Platte River Mall
The magic show featuring exotic animals that performed at the Platte River Mall in early June would become an endangered species if animal rights group PETA gets its way.
PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) has since contacted the Platte River Mall and issued an ‘Action Center Alert’ to its supporters urging them to “Please ask the Platte River Mall to enact a policy prohibiting any display, exhibit, or event that uses exotic animals on mall property.”
PETA members were encouraged to send polite comments to Clarine Eickhoff, the property manager of the Platte River Mall. Eickhoff’s work phone number, fax number, and email were included in the message.
Eickhoff said that the shows received an overwhelmingly positive reception from the public. An estimated 2,200 people attended the five performances.
She said that mall staff has heard feedback such as, “We loved the tigers, they are so cute,” and, “This was great for our family.”
The act uses magic and rare animals to back up its strong anti-drug, anti-alcohol, and anti-bullying message.
Eickhoff said that the Platte River Mall contacted other malls prior to booking the show and received good reviews.
Once ‘G.W. Exotic Animal Parks Mystical Magic of the Endangered’ left town, Eickhoff said that she received PETA’s form letter and attachment.
The mall declined to comment on how many PETA supporters, if any, had contacted them.
PETA has targeted G.W. Exotic Animal Parks Mystical Magic of the Endangered and the animal rescue facility it is attached to for several years.
The animal rights group conducted an undercover investigation of the facility, G.W. Exotic Animal Memorial Park.
PETA alleges that animals kept at the park are subjected to poor conditions and inadequate food and water.
They also accuse G.W. Animal Park of more specific instances of animal abuse. PETA claims that the park killed two healthy adult tigers so that their teeth could be removed and used as gifts.
PETA says that sick or injured animals at the park are often denied care for extended periods of time, and that the veterinary staff is insufficient for the needs of the animals.
The undercover investigator also claims to have witnessed staff members physically abusing the animals.
The organization further states that the park uses “terrified” goats and chickens as bait to lure big cats into cages.
PETA also alleges that the animals used in the traveling magic act often sicken due to the stress of dealing with humans and travel conditions. The organization states that young animals should be kept with their mothers.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture conducted a surprise investigation of the park following PETA’s allegations and found the park to be in complete compliance at the time of the inspection.
G.W. Animal Park admits on its webpage that it has been cited by the USDA before, but that all the problems have been addressed and remedied. It maintains that the park always acts in the best interests of its more than 1400 animals, and does the best it can with the funds and space available.
G.W. Animal Park claims that it never says no to an animal rescue and rarely receives payment for the action it takes.
Answering the charges that interacting with humans almost from birth age causes harm to the animals, the park says that their animals are not born in the wild but rather in zoos and to private breeders. Human interaction enriches the animals’ lives, according to G.W.
Visitors can view photos of the facility. The pictures show clean cages and healthy looking animals.
Currently the park is trying to raise the funds to build the largest tiger paddock in America. It will include a half-acre pond and island for the big cats.
The park website accuses PETA’s undercover investigator of fabricating the violations and taking employee comments out of context in order to gain confessions of animal neglect and abuse.
The site also purports that the undercover PETA operative taunted and provoked animals at the park so they could be photographed exhibiting aggressive, violent behavior.
Joe Schreibvogel, who heads the park’s rescue efforts and performs in the magic show as Joe Exotic, has a particularly acrimonious relationship with the animal rights group.
The park’s website states that emails concerning animal abuse are not responded to, but Schreibvogel says on the site that PETA euthanizes thousands of animals every year instead of caring for and finding new homes for the animals.
Schreibvogel’s Myspace page, kept under the name Joe Exotic, features three anti-PETA blog posts, one titled “PeTA (sic) sucks and should be shut down.”
PETA has been a flashpoint of controversy since it’s inception in 1980 due to its long-term goal of abolishing animal usage. The group believes that the ownership of non-human animals is unjust and abusive.
People and organizations that have been targeted by PETA often complain that the animal rights crusaders are willing to break the law and fudge facts to further their agenda.
One example is the undercover investigation that PETA launched into the Westland Hallmark meat processing facility in California.
A PETA video showed plant workers carrying cattle into the slaughterhouse on forklifts. The rule is that if an animal is too sick to walk in on its own, it cannot be turned into food.
The video lead to a massive beef recall from fast food chains and school lunch programs. The company was subsequently driven into bankruptcy.
PETA detractors maintain, however, that the animal rights activists staged the whole incident. They claim that the PETA investigator coerced illegal immigrant plant workers, who could not speak English, into carrying healthy animals on the forklifts.
The USDA did not have any evidence of meat contamination other than the PETA video.
There have been no further developments in that case.
by Ben Schwartz (North Platte Bulletin) – 7/2/2009