Last updated: 09:24 AM ET, Fri August 07 2015

Petition Condemns Kalahari Resorts for Tiger and Lion Cub Practices

Hotel & Resort | Ryan Rudnansky | August 07, 2015

Petition Condemns Kalahari Resorts for Tiger and Lion Cub Practices

Photo courtesy of Thinkstock

News that a Minnesota dentist, Walter Palmer, allegedly killed Zimbabwe icon and longtime research subject Cecil the lion during a hunting expedition sent shockwaves throughout the world.

Now, a petition on social enterprise Care2 is decrying the treatment of tiger and lion cubs at the Wisconsin and Ohio locations of American water park resort chain Kalahari Resorts, which is themed around Africa.

The petition, which calls for Kalahari Resorts to “stop abusing tiger and lion cubs,” has currently collected more than 116,000 signatures.

Specifically, the petition is asking Kalahari Resorts to put an end to its “cruel” cub petting displays in its resort lobbies and to stop doing business with two cub providers that have previously been cited for various forms of lion and tiger cub abuse by U.S. authorities.

According to petition author Mary Elizabeth, via the petition homepage, “The very nature of photo displays ensures that the cubs live awful lives. They are bred en masse in awful conditions, torn from their mothers shortly after birth, and are not allowed to roam, sleep, or do anything that is natural to them. To keep them small and usable for as long as possible, exhibitors often deprive the cubs of food, resulting in severe skeletal weakness and possible death. And if the cubs survive, they will be discarded once they grow too large to handle safely.”

She continued: “Sadly, a tiger is worth much more dead than alive. So, after just a few weeks of being used as photo props at your resort, the growing cubs will be slaughtered, euthanized, or sold into the unregulated exotic animal trade, which is second in profit only to the trade in drugs and weapons.”

A 2014 YouTube video by a resort guest shows an employee at Kalahari’s Wisconsin Dells park pushing various items into the face of a tiger cub and moving it around to get it to be more active.

Kalahari Resorts also works with cub providers William Coburn and Mark Schoebel.

Coburn owns Wild Acres Ranch, which supplies cubs to Kalahari’s Sandusky, Ohio location. He has been cited by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for various violations of the Animal Welfare Act.

Schoebel owns Timbavati Wildlife Park, which provides tiger cubs for the Wisconsin Dells location. In 1986, he allegedly pled guilty to four counts of wildlife infractions after a federal investigation showed that he provided bears for slaughter and sale to Korea, according to Animal Underworld, Inside America's Black Market for Rare and Exotic Species by Alan Green. The book also claims that in 2002 a federal sting operation called "Operation Snow Plow” revealed nearly a dozen of Schoebel's former cubs were sold to an animal slaughter ring, shot in trailers and skinned (Schoebel said Green “doesn’t have his facts straight,” per a Chippewa Herald report).

Kalahari is currently offering Wisconsin Dells resort guests free passes to Schoebel's park.

“It's time for Kalahari to step up to the plate, give endangered animals the respect and care they deserve, and stop supporting these irresponsible and inhumane exhibits,” Elizabeth said, via a release.

Elizabeth said she has reached out to Kalahari during the petition and has yet to receive a response.

“Since I've started my petition to Kalahari, I've emailed the executives three times, submitted complaints through the customer service section of both location's websites, and brought up the issue on their Facebook page multiple times, with no response,” she said. "Kalahari's failure to respond to the legitimate concerns of over 100,000 people is very disheartening. No responsible company should knowingly support the abuse, exploitation, and crime inherent in cub photo exhibits.”

Kalahari Resorts did not immediately respond to a request for comment by TravelPulse.



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