"Carnivore cubs under one or two years of age are at a critical learning juncture, when they would be learning necessary life skills from their mothers and species-appropriate social skills from mother [and] siblings," Pratte said. He explained that human-reared cubs can develop a number of problems, including excessive aggression towards other animals and humans, and "long-term depressive traits."
"These observations are not an exhaustive list of the psychological neglect and trauma that these cats endure daily," Pratte added. "[But] they do indicate poor animal welfare and neglect on the part of Ringling Bros."
A questionable future
For Pratte, the takeaways from his visit to Ringling Bros. were clear - as was the future for these cats if nothing is done to improve their welfare.
"The tigers I observed are under constant psychological duress, which results in acute and chronic medical concerns for these animals," he said. "The cumulative effects of distress will likely shorten these animals' lives and, in severe cases, lead to myopathy, injury, or even death."