Exotic date: Miami High school displays caged tiger as part of prom celebrations and gets mauled by the internet
Christopher Columbus High School is facing heavy criticism after they brought in a tiger and other animals as entertainment for its prom celebrations.
A private Catholic school for boys is facing the music after they arranged to have a caged tiger present at its prom on Friday, May 11th. Christopher Columbus High School in Miami arranged the exotic entertainment as part of their jungle-themed prom. Videos of the poor animal began to surface online by Sunday.
"This poor tiger was used as an exotic amusement for the mindless teenagers who were present," Mari-Cris Castellanos, whose brother attends the school, wrote on Facebook. "It is not the student [sic] fault to be so naive BUT it’s the CCHS STAFF who arranged this event, therefore they are responsible for this tigers misery."
Castellanos' video shows the tiger restlessly pacing the perimeter of its small cage on the dance floor. Stunned teens look on while the mighty beast moved around frantically. Another video she posted shows the animal again pacing in its cage. This time some human performers add to the entertainment by dancing with fire to loud music. A third video taken during the fire-dancing performance shows the tiger lying listlessly in its prison.
The tiger may have been the star attraction, but it wasn’t the only exotic animal to find itself transported into the middle of a crowd of sweaty teenagers. According to NBC6, the entertainment company that the school hired for the event also provided a fox, a parrot and a lemur. Students were reportedly allowed to pose with the animals for pictures.
Since the video was posted online, the school has faced heavy backlash from animal rights activists and environmental conservationists. People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) were among the many organizations to come down on the high school for their callous treatment of wildlife.
"Wild animals aren't prom decorations. Displaying a tiger in a tiny cage and allowing students to handle lemurs is cruel to the animals and dangerous for the students, and it sends the harmful message that living beings are props to be used for human amusement," PETA said in a statement.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has also announced that it is looking into the tiger's presence at the prom, NBC News reports. Florida requires citizens to hold a permit to own and/or exhibit wild animals. It is not yet known if the school fulfilled the necessary criteria.
"The FWC is aware of the video taken at Christopher Columbus High School Prom, and is looking into the incident to determine if any violation of Florida’s captive wildlife rules took place during this incident," FWC Public Information Coordinator Rob Klepper said. "Provided all rules and regulations are followed, the exhibition of wildlife at public events is not prohibited by Florida law."
The school has since released a statement apologizing for the use of the wild animal in its prom celebrations. The statement assures that the animals were in a “controlled environment” and that none of the students or staff were in any danger.
"We recognize this decision has offended some and for that, we apologize. Although it was in a controlled environment and handled by professionals approved by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation, we understand how some individuals may be concerned," Principal David Pugh said in the statement.
The statement also guarantees that the school will re-evaluate its policies and procedures before planning any and all future events. Hopefully, those new policies will be strictly against using endangered wildlife for amusement.
"We all have learned a great deal from this experience," Pugh wrote.