There was a horse in the club, and now there’s a big cat at the high school prom.
Christopher Columbus High School in Miami-Dade, Florida, went all out for its ‘Welcome to the Jungle’ themed prom, according to the Orlando Sentinel. The big event, hosted at the Double Tree Hilton Miami Airport Convention Center, had costumed fire dancers, giant plants and, most shocking, a live tiger.
The big cat was kept in a cage while at the school’s prom. Video posted to Facebook by Marie-Cris Castellanos, whose brother attended the event, shows the wild animal pacing its tiny cage while lights flash and the music blares.
A number of parents and students are outraged that the tiger and other animals, which included a lemur, two macaws and an African fennec fox, were included in the prom, some allegedly as table centerpieces, reports WPLG-Ch. 10.
“This poor tiger was used as an EXOTIC amusement for the mindless teenagers who were present, it is not the students’ fault to be so naive BUT it’s the CCHS STAFF who arranged this event, there for [sic]
‘they are responsible for this tiger’s misery,” Castellanos wrote along with the video she posted of the tiger, adding later that she hopes the school will now make an effort to stop the use of animal entertainment at parties.
There has been enough outrage surrounding the choice to hire animal entertainment for prom that Christopher Columbus High School, an all boys Catholic school, has issued a comment about the decision too.
“The tiger, which was displayed for a few minutes in a cage, was never harmed or in danger, was not forced to perform, was always accompanied by his handlers, and for the great majority of the time, was laying down in a relaxed state, facing away from the audience,” a spokesperson said in a statement to WPLG Local 10 News.
Professionals disagree that the tiger seen in the clips surfacing online is relaxed.
“The tiger is clearly looking for a way to get out of that situation, it’s not difficult to interpret that behavior,” Ron Magill, an animal behavior expert from ZooMiami, told the Miami Herald. “He was surrounded by people, cell phones, lights, jugglers juggling fire. I really don’t know what they were thinking.”
The high school’s principal, David Pugh, released his own statement on Sunday in response to the growing concern over the animals’ safety during the event and what messages the inclusion of these creatures at prom might relay to the students.
“Some individuals have expressed their sentiments about the use of animals as part of a performance at prom. 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,” Hugh writes in a statement on the high school’s website. “Moving forward, we will evaluate our current policies and procedures in the planning and management of school events, including the impact these events have on others. We all have learned a great deal from this experience.”