In today’s episode of “Wild Animals Belong in the Wild, You Fool,” a Florida high school decided to invite a live caged tiger to its students' prom. As part of the evening's entertainment, the fully grown tiger was wheeled in front of students and fire-breathing performers alongside other exotic animals, including lemurs, two macaw parrots, and an African fennec fox.
Christopher Columbus High School (CCHS) in Miami hosted the “Welcome to the Jungle” themed prom at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Miami Airport and Convention Center last Friday, reports an ABC local news affiliate. One local animal behavior expert told the Miami Herald the tiger was "obviously stressed," adding that it was "clearly looking for a way to get out of that situation, it's not difficult to interpret that behavior."
Needless to say, people are pretty pissed at the all-boys private school for hosting the event, venting their anger on social media (as is tradition nowadays).
“WHY DOES CCHS ALLOW SUCH ANIMAL CRUELTY?” one student’s sister posted on Facebook along with smartphone footage of the caged tiger.
“This poor tiger was used as an EXOTIC amusement for the mindless teenagers who were present. It is not the student fault to be so naive BUT it’s the CCHS STAFF who arranged this event.”
Thousands of people have voiced concern for the animal's welfare on Twitter and Reddit too, although a handful of users also defended the actions of the school.
You might assume that this bad-taste prom is an exceptional case, but it hints at a much wider problem.
There are more tigers living in the backyards of Americans than there are tigers in the wild, according to the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), with an estimated 5,000 captive tigers living in the US. Many conservation groups have urged the US to push for a ban on private ownership of tigers, but to no avail so far.
The principal of Christopher Columbus High School released a statement on Monday in light of the criticism, expressing regret at the choice of entertainment.
“As a school community, we regret the decision to have had live animals at our prom," it reads. "This incident in no way reflects our school’s Marist values and/or accomplishments of our young men nor our sensitivity to animal rights.
“We will immediately evaluate our current policies and procedures regarding all school activities and events. We can assure the Columbus community and all who have expressed concern, that we are sorry. We have learned a great deal from this experience. “