Disturbing footage has emerged of two handlers mistreating a tiger at Dreamworld, a theme park in Australia.
The video shows a handler pulling the tiger by its tail, while another punches the animal on its head a number of times.
Filmed at the Gold Coast theme park in Queensland the footage was uploaded to Instagram on Thursday.
However, Dreamworld have defended the handlers, saying the two experienced workers were simply separating the tigers in the ‘safest way.’
This didn’t stop viewers expressing their outrage on social media though – not only condemning the handlers’ abusive actions but the whole idea of keeping animals in captivity.
row_morrissey commented on the post, saying:
Hhow about leaving wild animals in the wild? Why do humans have such a feeling of superiority over everything else that they need to put everything in captivity?
The incident reinforces that it is not possible to meet all the needs of wild animals in captivity.
However, zoos have an obligation to care for the welfare needs of wild animals currently held captive as fully as possible!
Some viewers have defended the actions, suggesting the handlers and the theme park are helping protect the endangered species.
jaggedjanine said in response to critics:
Would you rather have the 2 tigers fight and potentially seriously harm the other? Possibly die? Or have one of them have a short sharp hit on the nose and have 2 still living, still healthy tigers? They are endangered. We need to keep as many alive as possible.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) spokeswoman, Laura Weyman-Jones told Daily Mail Australia the handlers’ treatment of the tiger was ‘appalling’.
Pulling a tiger by the tail and punching them in the head is appalling, unjustifiable cruelty.
Tigers are meant to roam far and wide, not to spend their lives in enclosures being gawked at by strangers and bullied by staff.
PETA has called for legal action to be taken, with an immediate and ‘thorough’ investigation into the video and the behaviour of the animal handlers.
A spokesperson for Dreamland has responded to the video, saying the tigers – called Akasha and Kai – were acting aggressively towards one another and they needed separating before one of them was seriously hurt.
Open hand taps to the facial area is the safest way to refocus tigers who are challenging each other and this is consistent with the way in which tigers communicate with each other in similar situations.
The alarming video comes just a day after Dreamworld’s boss, Simon Kelly, stepped down from his position after only six months in the job.
Ardent, the company who manage the Dreamworld theme park, has not disclosed any reason for Mr Kelly’s departure, who’s predecessor, Deborah Thomas, also only lasted six months in the role.
Ardent has been struggling ever since a tragic accident in October 2016, in which four people died and it seems this video is just the latest in a long list of issues affecting the park.
Charlie Cocksedge is a journalist at UNILAD. He graduated from the University of Manchester with an MA in Creative Writing, where he learnt how to write in the third person, before getting his NCTJ. His work has also appeared in such places as The Guardian, PN Review and the bin.