SOUTHWEST MIAMI-DADE, FLA. (WSVN) - The principal of Christopher Columbus High said the school regrets the decision to bring a caged tiger onto the dance floor during the school’s prom.
The principal released a statement which reads:
“As a school community, we regret the decision to have had live animals at our prom. 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. ”
Video posted to social media shows the feline being wheeled out into the middle of the dance floor at a hotel near Miami International Airport in Northwest Miami-Dade, Friday night. The tiger could be seen pacing back and forth as fire dancers twirled flames feet away from the cage.
“Every year, they try to make it as cool as possible,” said student Raphael Crespo.
Crespo said that while he doesn’t agree with using animals for entertainment purposes, the tiger did seem OK to him.
“Although a tiger may have been a bit extra, it was still a cool event,” he said. “I’ve never actually seen a tiger that close. especially in stuff like that. But we were always careful. The tiger didn’t seem to be in distress or anything – it was never forced to perform – so it’s not like the tiger was abused or made to do something it didn’t want to.”
However, wildlife expert Ron Magill said the tiger’s actions showed that it really was in distress.
“For people who think that tiger was not stressed, you just need to look at its behaviors,” Magill said. “It’s pacing back and forth. It’s just looking for a way to get out of that enclosure.”
The tiger wasn’t the only animal at the prom – a fennec fox, two macaws and a lemur were also present. Caged birds were also used as centerpieces.
“I understand the school’s effort to try and give a memorable experience to their students, but having said that, we’re beyond a time where we’re exploiting animals strictly for the entertainment value,” Magill said. “That is not the right way to treat these animals, that is not the way to respect these animals, and hopefully, an incident like this will not occur in the future.”
The hotel where the prom was held also issued a statement saying, “In advance of last Friday’s prom, Christopher Columbus High School officials contracted independently with a licensed organization of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. We sought assurances from the event coordinators that the necessary precautions were in place for the safety and well-being of any animals, our guests and employees.”
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals also responded to the incident, calling for the principal to ban animals from any future events.
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