Dade City's Wild Things ships tigers to Oklahoma

- Dade City's Wild Things used to be known for its encounters with tiger cubs.

But earlier this year, a judge ruled the facility violated the Animal Welfare Act by, according to the USDA, forcing tiger cubs to swim with the public, despite causing them stress and discomfort.

Wild Things was also slapped a $21,000 fine.

PETA, meanwhile, says the mistreatment hasn't stopped, and Wild Things still advertises swimming with tigers as one of its attractions on its website. PETA sued Wild Things late last year.

"PETA sued Dade City's Wild Things for their harming and harassing of tigers and specifically their routine separation prematurely of tiger cubs from their mothers, long before they would naturally be weaned, and forcing cubs and other animals to be in direct contact with the public," said Delcianna Winders, spokesperson for PETA.

Earlier this month, a judge ruled PETA could participate in an inspection of the site to check on the animals. Then, on Friday, the judge ordered the tigers remain on site until the inspection, which is set for this Thursday.

Wild Things failed to comply with the order, and over the weekend 19 tigers traveled from Dade City to a facility in Wynnewood, Oklahoma. On the way, one of those tigers gave birth to three cubs. G.W. Exotic Animal Park is where the tigers were taken to. Its entertainment director, Joe Maldonado, said those cubs died.

"You have baby tigers in their birth sacs and they're helpless," said Maldonado. "Yeah, it ripped my heart out."

Maldonado says he had no idea about the court order.

"We gave 19 tigers a home," he said. "I know nothing about the lawsuit battle with Dade City's Wild Things and PETA. Now we're just stuck in the middle of all this drama."

Maldonado said he expected 22 tigers to arrive this weekend. Both he and PETA say they're unaware of where the other three are at this time.

"During the court-ordered inspection, we should find out and I believe they're suspected to still be on site at Dade City," said Winders.


Neither Maldonado nor PETA has been in direct contact with Wild Things director Kathy Stearns since the tigers' transfer. Previously, Stearns has told FOX 13 she has been unfairly singled out.

"They're targeting me and going after me and nobody else," she said in a report from 2015.

FOX 13 made several calls to Ms. Stearns. A woman who said she is a volunteer at Wild Things said Ms. Stearns was not in the office and did not know when she would return.

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