Opposing Feld Entertainment’s Tiger Export

The Animal Legal Defense Fund objects to granting Feld Entertainment a permit to export big cats to Germany.


August 31, 2017

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In March 2017, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) pre-published notice that Feld Entertainment, the multi-billion dollar parent corporation of the shuttered Ringling Bros. Circus, was applying for an Endangered Species Act permit to export several retired circus tigers, lions, and a leopard, to an individual in Germany who intended to use them in a German circus.

The Animal Legal Defense Fund, along with PETA and the Animal Rights Foundation of Florida, strongly opposed Ringling’s application, when there were bona fide sanctuaries available in the United States that could provide a naturalistic environment and appropriate care for these retired tigers.

Our comment also pointed out the application failed to provide appropriate information regarding the method of the export and, in particular, what efforts would be taken to ensure the safety of the tigers, lions, and leopards during the process.

Notwithstanding the many valid points raised by our opposition comment letter, in August 2017, FWS granted Feld Entertainment’s permits. Sadly, during the export process, one of the tigers covered under the permit — named Suzy — escaped from a transport truck outside Atlanta, Georgia, while en route to the Memphis International Airport. Suzy was killed by police.

The Animal Legal Defense Fund continues to fight for stronger legal protections for captive wild animals, and better enforcement of those actions.

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