Siberian tigers forced to perform for ‘selfies’ at Ohio county fair

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In a series of disturbing photos taken at the Summit County Fair in Ohio that have recently gone viral, one photo shows a woman sitting on top of a Siberian tiger while her friends take pictures and the group laughs. The photo, followed by thousands of comments on a Facebook page open to the public, questions if the Bengal and Siberian tigers are regularly drugged.

“Nerger’s Tigers force Bengal and Siberian Tigers to perform grotesquely degrading acts, repeatedly each day,” a witness wrote. “After performing and between shows they are available for photo ops. Handlers continually poke and prod them with sticks to get them to move.”

“Nerger’s Splendid Tigers” states they are the largest traveling tiger show in the United States. The business, operated by Judit and Juergen Nerger, German tiger trainers, have worked in the circus industry training animals for 30 years before coming to the United States.

Accusations that the tigers are kept in small cages and poked with sticks to perform have been denied by the trainers. According to the Times Reporter, the animals are treated like family members by the owners.

“Judit said the stick is used ‘to get them up — it’s not hurting them. It’s just a little pressure under the belly.'”

“These guys are our family members,” she said. “Even though they are outside and in cages, we treat them like pets — it’s not just a job [running the tiger show]. It’s more than that.”

Photos and videos may be telling another story. Another fair attendee, going to school in California and visiting her family, gave her impression of the show:

“It has been a yearly tradition for my friends and I to attend the Summit County Fair together. We’ve loved it there for many years, but this year was different. Early in the day, I was shocked to stumble upon many cages holding TIGERS. Yes, tigers (in OHIO??!). The tigers were kept in these small cages for HOURS before the “show,” becoming increasingly anxious and panting/circling their cages as the evening continued. I am beyond disgusted with the fair’s decision to hold this horrible show featuring exotic animals (who seem to be miserable) being whipped and battered with sticks to do circus tricks. I won’t be coming back next year, and I hope no one else does either.”

The following video of the tiger being poked with a stick has garnered more than 66,000 views.

Posted by Kinsey Switalski on Tuesday, July 23, 2019

And another video:

Posted by Kinsey Switalski on Tuesday, July 23, 2019

The Animal Welfare Act requires that caging for large felines be a least 8 feet tall to keep animals and unauthorized people out. The director of the fair stated the animals were well cared for, but despite the criticism of using wild animals to perform and take selfies, has stated this had been a popular attraction.

A plea to contact elected officials has been posted. People are reminded to be respectful.

“Please, please contact Mayor of Tallmadge, Ohio ( David Kline) respectfully ask he not continue to allow these greedy humans – that see animals as commodities- to profit from pain and suffering at the Summit County Fair or in any area of Summit County. You can also comment on the Fairgrounds FB page –
Please speak up for them- especially Ohioans”

What do you think? Should this be allowed?

(Headline photo via FB Giovania Gia Maria Mona-Campola)

(Additional photos and videos via Kinsey Switalski)

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2 replies
  1. Carol Green says:

    Family members indeed! Would you allow some fat-assed person sit on your child? Would you think it okay to have your mother locked in a small cage in the heat and aggravating noises of thousands of people and machinery blasting at her for hours on end? Would it be alright if someone used a stick to prod and jab at your grandfather when he’s too slow to respond when being told to move? Most people who love their family members would not treat them with such disrespect. In fact, I dare say if someone were treating my family this way I would be in jail for knocking the shit out of that person. If you could be honest with yourselves, it would be the first step in showing these tigers real love and release them to an accredited sanctuary where they could truly be happy – probably for the first time in their lives.


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