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Dreamworld rejects criticism of animal care at Tiger Island attraction

Dreamworld rejects criticism of animal care at Tiger Island attraction
November 9, 2017

Caught in a public relations storm over interactions between handlers and animals at its Tiger Island exhibit, Gold Coast theme park Dreamworld has responded swiftly to refute allegations of animal abuse.

Footage emerged on social media this morning showing two handlers at Tiger Island separating a pair of tigers. The trained tiger handlers are seen pulling one tiger away from the other and being given a tap on the face.

Amid a storm of contemporary outrage, the video was shared by mainstream outlets.

Responding in a statement released this morning, Dreamworld General Manager of Life Sciences Al Mucci advised "the media commentary to the circumstance misrepresents the context of what was occurring in the brief footage. The handler’s actions to refocus Akasha were explained to guests immediately after the tigers were separated.

"The tigers in this video were showing antagonistic behaviour and needed separating before they had an opportunity to hurt each other."

Mucci stated that these are standard techniques used in tiger handling and are based on natural interaction between tigers, adding "open hand taps to the facial area is the safest way to refocus tigers who are challenging each other and this is consistent with the way in which tigers communicate with each other in similar situations. The tiger’s tail is one of its strongest parts of the body. Tigers and handlers routinely play with the tail.

"The care and welfare of our tigers and all our wildlife family is paramount. Dreamworld is Welfare Accredited by the Zoo and Aquarium Association of Australasia. All our handlers are highly experienced in working with tigers and have over a hundred years of collective experience. All our approaches are consistent with normal tiger behaviours and the way in which tigers interact and respond with each other.

"Dreamworld is host to the Dreamworld Wildlife Foundation, a not for profit charity that is one of the largest financial contributors to wild tiger conservation initiatives."

Image: Dreamworld's Tiger Island.

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