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For Immediate Release: 11/13/08

Circus safety questioned after Mexico City tiger mauling

Mexico City — In yet another shocking incident that underscores the serious danger inherent in keeping wild animals captive, a tiger at Bio Parque Estrella outside Mexico City escaped an unlocked cage, killed a keeper, and then was killed after being recaptured.

“Born Free USA united with Animal Protection Institute (Born Free USA) has long sounded the alarm about the dangers of forcing wild animals to perform for us,” explained Nicole Paquette, Senior Vice President. “This is a global problem that requires serious global attention before another human or animal dies.”

This incident follows reports of the November 5th escape of three tigers from a circus truck. The tigers overtook a house in the western city of Zitacuaro and were loose for about one hour before police and the animals’ trainer were able to distract and recapture them by throwing chickens at the animals. The animals were then returned to the circus.

In September, a circus elephant named Indra escaped onto a Mexican highway and was struck by a bus — killing her, the bus driver, and injuring a number of passengers on the bus. In that incident, Mexico State officials also seized 12 animals — 2 Asian elephants and 10 Siberian tigers — from the circus after inspections found them to be improperly contained and at risk of escape. Inspectors noted the elephants were being kept tied to the wheel of a trailer and that other enclosures lacked proper locks.

These incidents underscore Born Free USA’s fears for the plight of wild animals in captivity – especially those kept improperly by traveling circuses and zoos.

“The horror of life for animals in a circus is not unique to Mexico,” explained Paquette. “Here in the United States, we are one of four plaintiffs in a groundbreaking federal lawsuit against Ringling Bros. circus for its mistreatment of endangered Asian elephants.” The trial is scheduled to begin in February 2009, focusing on Ringling’s use of bullhooks and near-constant chaining of their elephants as they travel across the country.

“Keeping dangerous wild animals in captivity in circuses is cruel and dangerous,” adds Paquette. “We must do the best we can for these unfortunate individuals by retiring them to Sanctuaries which place their long-term welfare as the top priority. However, ultimately I believe the only place this majestic species truly belongs is in the wild.”

Born Free USA united with Animal Protection Institute is a leading non-profit animal advocacy organization working to conserve and protect wildlife in the US and globally through legislation, litigation, and public education. Born Free USA is a nationally recognized leader on exotic animal legislation and a member of the Captive Wild Animal Protection Coalition and the Species Survival Network. More information can be found at www.bornfreeusa.org.

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Contact:
Zibby Wilder, Born Free USA, 916.267.7266

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