PETA Urges USDA Action After Big Cats Left in Travel Crates
For Immediate Release:
November 5, 2021
David Perle 202-483-7382
Sarasota, Fla. – Because tiger exhibitors Judit and Juergen Nerger left big cats in small travel crates illegally and ditched six tigers at a roadside zoo in Sarasota when their tiger show business failed, PETA sent a letter today to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) urging the agency to terminate their federal Animal Welfare Act license. The Nergers had previously kept tigers in Illinois, but by moving them to Florida and failing to alert the USDA, the couple evaded federal inspections for years.
In the letter, PETA points to a recent report from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission indicating that the Nergers lacked authorization to keep tigers in Florida, yet unlawfully kept six of them at Big Cat Habitat & Gulf Coast Sanctuary, where Juergen Nerger told the owner “that he intended to leave the country and leave his cats behind.” While there, five tigers were kept in cramped crates, and the state facilitated the animals’ transfer of ownership to Big Cat Habitat, which arranged for them to be shipped to Tennessee-based Tiger Haven—a disreputable facility where an 18-year-old nearly lost her arm during a tiger attack this year.
“Once their tiger shows collapsed, these circus exhibitors left tigers in cramped crates for months and planned to abandon them altogether,” says PETA Foundation Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Rachel Mathews. “To prevent the Nergers from harming animals again, PETA is urging the USDA to terminate their license.”
PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—estimates that there are fewer than 10 exhibitors routinely displaying big cats in circuses and fairs in the U.S., evidence that the public has lost interest in cruel, outdated acts that exploit wild animals.
PETA opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. For more information on PETA’s investigative newsgathering and reporting, please visit PETA.org or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.