State officials are investigating after a Florida high school reportedly incorporated a caged tiger into their jungle-themed prom.
According to ABC News, “Welcome to the Jungle” was the theme of Christopher Columbus High School’s prom, which was held Friday night at the DoubleTree Hotel at the Miami International Airport. Video shot that night appears to show a large tiger pacing back and forth in a cage.
In addition to the tiger, the Miami Herald reported that the prom also featured a lemur, two macaws, and an African fennec fox. At first, the school defended their decision, saying that two police officers were present and that the tiger “was never harmed or in danger, was not forced to perform, was always accompanied by his handlers, and for the great majority of the time was lying down in a relaxed state facing away from the audience.”
ZooMiami spokesman Ron Magill disagreed, telling Herald that the tiger was “obviously stressed.”
How shameful for Christopher Columbus High school …showing its students on prom night who is the “king of the jungle “…
“The tiger is clearly looking for a way to get out of that situation, it’s not difficult to interpret that behavior,” Magill said. “He was surrounded by people, cell phones, lights, jugglers juggling fire. I really don’t know what they were thinking.”
“Exploiting animals for entertainment at parties—that time has passed. We know better; we’ve been educated.”
The New York Times reported that the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said they were aware of the video, investigating the incident, and will determine if the event violated any of the state’s captive wildlife rules.
“Provided all rules and regulations are followed, exhibition of wildlife at public events is not prohibited by Florida law,” they said Monday.
In light of the backlash, however, Christopher Columbus High School principal David Pugh apologized for their decision in a statement issued to CBS Miami.
“This decision in no way reflects the Marist values, teachings of the Catholic Church and/or the accomplishments of our young and that of our distinguished alumni,” he said Monday.
“We remain proud of the work we do in our community by raising awareness for pediatric cancer, autism, and our homeless veterans, to name a few.”
[Featured Image: Facebook video screengrab]