A Miami high school is catching some heat after its jungle-themed prom decorations included a live caged tiger.
Christopher Columbus High School, a private Catholic school for boys, held its prom on Friday. By Sunday, video of the tiger pacing in a small cage began to surface online.
“This poor tiger was used as an EXOTIC amusement for the mindless teenagers who were present,” Mari-Cris Castellanos, whose brother attends the school, wrote on Facebook. “It is not the student [sic] fault to be so naive BUT it’s the CCHS STAFF who arranged this event, there for they are responsible for this tigers misery.”
Castellanos’ video show the tiger frantically walking the perimeter of its cage on the dance floor while stunned teens look on. Another video she posted shows the animal again pacing in its cage while a performer dances with fire to loud music. A third video during the fire performance shows the tiger lying in its cage.
The tiger wasn’t the only animal at the prom.
The entertainment company hired by the school also brought a lemur, a parrot and a fox, according to NBC News affiliate NBC 6, which students were able to pose with for pictures.
PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, also expressed outrage at the tiger’s presence at the prom.
“Wild animals aren’t prom decorations. Displaying a tiger in a tiny cage and allowing students to handle lemurs is cruel to the animals and dangerous for the students, and it sends the harmful message that living beings are props to be used for human amusement,” PETA said in a statement to NBC 6.
In an email, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) said it is looking into the tiger’s presence at the prom.
“The FWC is aware of the video taken at Christopher Columbus High School Prom, and is looking into the incident to determine if any violation of Florida’s captive wildlife rules took place during this incident,” FWC Public Information Coordinator Rob Klepper said. “Provided all rules and regulations are followed, exhibition of wildlife at public events is not prohibited by Florida law.”
In a statement released by the school, Principal David Pugh apologized for the use of the animal in the prom celebration.
“We recognize this decision has offended some and for that we apologize. Although it was in a controlled environment and handled by professionals approved by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation, we understand how some individuals may be concerned,” Pugh said in a statement.
The statement also said that, moving forward, the school will evaluate its policies and procedures when planning events. “We all have learned a great deal from this experience,” Pugh wrote.