TAYLOR — When Judi Vig, a member of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, saw exotic animals on display Wednesday at Southland Center, it sent alarms off in her mind.
She called City Hall to check that everything was in order with the display and to voice concerns about the animals' welfare.
Vig said PETA has had issues with G.W. Exotic Animals of Wynnewood, Okla., which houses the animals Awakening Production uses.
Awakening Production came to Southland with lion and tiger cubs and a baby kangaroo.
It set up a display where people could see the animals, and if they wanted, pay $25 for two people to spend eight minutes in a cage with tiger cubs and a trainer.
Today is the show's last day.
Awakening Production had not obtained a permit to hold a special event, which is required, said Joseph Nardone, the city's executive director of development services.
A representative of the company came to City Hall with a letter from Southland Center giving permission for the event and to seek a permit, he said.
Ordinance and animal control officers investigated the complaint, he said.
Animal control officers found no violations, city officials said. The permit was issued.
As of Thursday afternoon, the company was in compliance with all city ordinances, Nardone said.
"Getting to touch a baby tiger is a moment in a lifetime," said Michael Bussey, stage manager for Awakening Production.
"You're seated. You go in with a certified trainer. The tigers will roam around the cage, crawl on your lap, and you can pet them."
There were plenty of takers, from young children to a 93-year-old woman, he said. But mainly, it was young families, especially mothers with their children.
Awakening Production also put on a free magic show each day. The purpose behind the magic show is to educate the public about ownership of exotic animals, Bussey said.
It booked several visits with General Growth Properties, which owns Southland Center and other malls across the country, Bussey said.
Awakening Production came with a 4-month-old white tiger; two 8-week-old tigers, which went into the play cages with visitors; a 13-week-old tiger; two 3-week-old lions; and a 3-month-old kangaroo, said Vicky Welch, road manager and animal caretaker.
Fourteen people, including stage crew and animal caretakers, travel with the animals, Welch said.
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Some of the Best Comments:
all you sorry people that have no clear understanding related to animal rights....The show at Southland was for self gain......Do you all know HOW MUCH MONEY THEY MADE! At the expense of breeding tigers that they can take around the country...to make money off you fools then they give or sell those tigers when they are too big...they end up in China and so on for their herbal cures....you people need to wake up, your just as guilty as they are....don't tell this woman to wake up she is very much awake...which is more then what I can say to you sorry people that can't engage your children into more productive activity to protect the environment and rights of animals.....you all get off easy putting your kid in a cage with an abused animal and you think your TEACHING or putting a star on your forehead for being a good parent....do your homework first!!!! Also, PETA along with other animal groups are all around...what do you think your local animal shelters, PAWS, etc.....what do you think they do...Also, The circus animals are also in a mess of abuse....pay attention and get involved...Don't attend GIB. Trade Center Circus......I wonder how many of you people that gave your hard earned money or welfare check money to this group just ignored putting a good meal on your table for your kids....Oh I know I forgot people like you get off easy.....processed food for the kids...right...$1.00 burgers at mcdonalds....PS.....I'm proud of my kids they wanted NO part of this! " go michigan
" I'm not a member of PETA but would NEVER EVER put my kids in a cage with a wild animal.....I don't ever want them to think that it is cute or FAIR to the animal, they do not need to be in cages they need to be in their natural environment.....free....not caged! City of Taylor and Southland should be ashamed for allowing this! I'm HAPPY this girl made the phone call....we need more people like her... " non member of PeTA
" while everyone who paid money to sit with an exotic animal and said it was a great family moment talk about wake up and smell the real world if u thought that was so great an experience WHAT ABOUT THE ANIMALS where are their parents? how about the family experience for the wild animals?For areal family experience try the park, playing catch with ur kids when are parents going to get it MEMORIES CANNOT BE BOUGHT THEY MUST BE EXPERIENCED!!Thankfully this woman knew that and tried to point that out, good for her THANK YOU!!! " wendy
" I was at the mall today doing some shopping with my son. We didn't even know about the 'show' until we were walking through the mall.
We wandered over and looked into one of the cages. There was a man sitting on the floor, holding his toddler daughter. The little girl was terrified of the baby tiger. She was screaming and kicking at the tiger. I think she made contact at one point. The employee never suggested the child be taken out of the cage, nor did the father have enough brains to cut the 'visit' short.
Now, repeat that scenario several times a day, in different cities, year round and tell me that these animals aren't being exploited and mistreated. It made me sick.
I am not a member of PETA. I agree that the organization is full of kooks. They were correct in their assessment of this 'show', however. " calumet
" This is another sad excuse for an "educational show", where in reality these animals are being exploited for one reason only – monetary gain. These cute baby tiger and lion cubs will grow up to be 300-500 lb big cats and are destined for a life in captivity or worse, can end up in canned hunts or killed for the black market. There are more tigers in captivity in the United States then there are in the wild. Until laws are passed restricting private ownership and exploitation of these great cats, this type of animal cruelty will continue. For more information about "Big Cat Exhibition" visit: http://www.bigcatrescue.org/bigcatexhibition.htm " tigress62
Why would you ask such a question? "Are you with them 24/7"? Well, what you do think? NO! That is why I said hopefully, they get fed and are well taken care of. I do not associate with the animals mentioned in this article nor do I know the trainers and/or owners.
Think about this, "protectanimals", they MUST be PROPERLY TRAINED, because why else would this company allow people to GO INSIDE THE CAGES WITH THE ANIMALS? It would be insane to let in-experienced people into a cage with a wild animals, babies or not.
Here's something else to think about. If the animals weren't trained, don't you think the company would of done something about that? Obviously they are, because why would a company like this allow in-experienced people into a cage with a wild animal? I don't post on this blog to argue! " josh
" Josh.....they are pretty harmless at this age........they are far from trained, they are helpless and are used for money (it's a million dollar company), when they get too big they are not used anymore, they only breed them for their shows and once they get a certain age thats it for them.....'cause they can not be on the shows anymore..they sure would not let a child go in a cage with an adult tiger...this person who made the call to the city did it out of concern and I have to agree with her...this company just came in for the money and they will go to the next town....they made alot of money from the downriver residents, they are pros! " " Also, Josh, Those workers would NEVER get in a cage with an adult tiger or lion....Never....the workers are only trained to work the crowd for the money and once again they have duped the public....those poor animals....their fate will not be good...I'm a retired teacher and have been a advocate for animals for many many years and have also known about this G.W. Exotic Animal group for a long time, they are very sly and never let anyone know what town they are going to next. "protectanimals
" How can any reporter do a story about baby lions and tigers at a mall and not investigate how it was that they were bred into such a miserable life and what will happen with them in a couple of months when they are too big to pet. Any one with access to the Internet could easily find out that these precious animals will spend the rest of their lives in tiny, filthy cages, be shot for their pelts, cut up for meat or worse. If people don't know, it is because they choose to be ignorant, but that doesn't ease the suffering. More at Dying To Be Held http://www.bigcatrescue dot org/000news/0articlesbybcr/2008DyingToBeHeld dot htm "
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