Humane Society Asks Public to Voice Concerns
Update: Members of the public can express their opinion on the exhibit during citizens comments at the Common Council meeting Tuesday at 6 p.m. The exhibit will then become an agenda item at the Fair Board meeting next Monday. Citizens can also email Common Council and Fair Board members.
Marshfield, WI (OnFocus) National animal welfare group The Humane Society of the United States hasn’t given up its efforts to convince the Central Wisconsin State Fair to cancel its controversial White Tiger Discovery exhibit.
This August, the exhibit by All Things Wild will allow fair-goers who pay for a $3 wristband to view the tigers as much as they wish and attend daily shows.
The Humane Society first outlined its concerns to fair officials in March, citing Animal Welfare Act violations against Michael Todd, owner of All Things Wild, and noting the confinement of the tigers while they are being transported from venue to venue in small cages.
The fair defended its decision to bring in the exhibit, saying that it’s educational and informs the public of how they can promote conservation efforts with one of the last remaining species of tigers in the world. It also said that veterinary review reports provided by All Things Wild showed superior standards each quarter in all but two instances, where the company was rated above average.
Megan Nicholson, Wisconsin State Director of The Humane Society, said, “We are unaware of any veterinary reports that ‘rate’ standards of animal care. Indeed, most veterinary certificates – such as those required to transport animals between states – merely verify that an animal is not showing active signs of illness.”
The fair responded to the organization’s concerns in an emailed letter this past week, reiterating that animals exhibited at the fair must have state-required health papers, which includes health and safety inspections during the fair, and that other venues to host the exhibit have assured them the tigers are given the best care and treatment.
Since there are less than 400 Royal White Tigers in existence and none in the wild, the fair said, the exhibit gives fair-goers the chance to learn what is being done to save the remaining wild tigers.
In a follow-up letter to the fair, Nicholson stated that the reason no Royal White Tigers exist in the wild is because the white tiger is not a species, but a color variation of Bengal tigers.
“White tigers appear occasionally in the wild but are at a distinct disadvantage because they lack the camouflage necessary to ensure survival,” she said. “All captive white tigers are extensively inbred, which has led to serious congenital defects including cataracts, club feet, and near-crippling hip dysplasia.”
The Dakota County Fair in Farmington, Minnesota cancelled its appearance of White Tiger Discovery last week following backlash from animal rights activists, including The Humane Society. Nicholson hopes for the same result with the Central Wisconsin State Fair with support from locals.
“Few people find pleasure in spectacles such as tiger displays anymore. We now know that in their natural habitats, these animals typically roam vast distances, hunt, raise families, swim in rivers and bask in the sun,” she said. “As props for fair displays, they can do little more than pace a couple of steps before encountering the bars of their tiny cages, so the claim that they are provided adequate veterinary care is of little comfort to caring people.”
She said the best way for the public to express opposition to the exhibit is to make their concerns known by emailing or calling the Central Wisconsin State Fair executive director and board of directors. The council representative to the Fair Board is Alderman Chris Jockheck.
“If the show does go on, fair attendees should refuse to patronize it,” said Nicholson. “Every person who hands over $3 to view the tigers will be directly contributing to the animals’ exploitation and ensuring that All Things Wild will continue to profit by hauling them to venues across the country.”
Anyone with concerns can attend the next meeting of the fair board on Monday, July 15 at 7 p.m. at the Fairgrounds.