The Chicago Tribune Reports on Protest of Tiger Cub Abuse
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.— A newspaper reports a tiger cub exhibit has closed at a Grand Rapids mall after public complaints and a planned protest.
The Grand Rapids Press reported Friday that mall officials canceled the touring display that allows shoppers to play with and be photographed with the cubs for a price.
Sarah Hale tells the newspaper she had planned a protest for Saturday against the exhibit but called it off.
Mall manager James Fowler says the exhibit has come to the mall several times before without incident but he asked the handlers to leave after he heard complaints and learned of the protest.
Threat of protest closes tiger cub exhibit at Centerpointe Mall
The threat of a protest has closed a display of live tiger cubs that was scheduled to be at Centerpointe Mall through Dec. 24.
Big Cat Rescue Entertainment, a nonprofit based in Oklahoma, operates a touring display that allows shoppers to play with and be photographed holding tiger cubs for a fee. News that the animals would visit Centerpointe at the peak of the holiday shopping season attracted the ire of some local animal-rights activists.
Sarah Hale, a self-described animal lover from Grand Rapids, said she became aware of the cub display when a friend alerted her to a recent “Inside Edition” report on the traveling exhibit. The report questioned the display’s safety and the conditions in which the cubs are kept.
Hale organized a protest that was to take place Saturday in a public space near 28th Street and the East Beltline. (The mall and its parking lot are private property.) As a result of the exhibit leaving, the protest was called off.
“I’m extremely proud of the mall for making that decision,” she said.
The mall’s general manager, James Fowler, said the tiger cubs had visited Centerpointe for several years without incident, but when he started getting negative feedback and learned a protest was planned, he asked the handlers to leave. On Thursday, the cages were empty and the animals were gone.
An unaffiliated Florida organization called Big Cat Rescue had thrown its support behind Hale’s protest. The Florida group accuses Big Cat Rescue Entertainment of exploiting the animals for profit. The organization says it has filed an intellectual property lawsuit against Big Cat Rescue Entertainment for using a similar name and logo to confuse the public.
“We’re trying to say don’t be a consumer and go and pay to pet these tiger cubs and have your picture taken, because they’re just doing it to make money,” said Susan Bass, public relations director for Big Cat Rescue.
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