DADE CITY, Fla. - A video some say shows abuse at a Pasco County zoo is now leading to an investigation by the Pasco Sheriff’s Office.
The video was secretly recorded at Dade City Wild Things. Its been viewed on YouTube more than 24,000 times.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals said it shows a new born tiger cub being pulled through a cage. There is also a dead cub on the ground. And others being forced to pose for pictures and swim as part of the up close encounters available at Wild Things..
“PETA’s eyewitness observed exhausted weeks old tigers being forced to swim with patrons, being yanked by their tales when they tried to escape or get out of the pool,” said PETA’s Brittany Peet.
After complaints, the Pasco Sheriff’s Office took a look at the video too.
“It just doesn’t look right and we need to investigate to make sure that if there are abuses going on there, that we take the appropriate actions,” said Sgt. Arthur Morrison.
PETA already filed a federal lawsuit against Wild Things earlier this month alleging mistreatment of the tigers.
But Wild Things Owner Kathy Stearns said PETA’s targeted her place for years.
Stearns said she and her trainers love the tigers and have taken great care of them for two decades.
Stearns didn’t want to go on camera for our story, but over the phone she told me the PETA operatives that were working for her, purposely neglected their duties to make conditions at Wild Things seem worse.
She said one did the same thing at a Tampa dog academy.
She also says PETA’s video doesn’t show the whole story.
For example, in one clip she said the mother tiger had just killed one of her cubs, and trainers were pulling others to safety as quickly as possible.
Wild Things said it’s working on a law suit against the former employees who took the video.
Stearns said all three were fired for not doing their jobs, before the video even surfaced.
The Sheriff’s office is handing the matter over to its Agricultural Unit.