As for the cub being pulled through the water in the video? "That one's an easy one," Stearns said. "That's a special-needs cub in the tub. A veterinarian was doing water therapy and acupuncture for him. What you're seeing is actually the first time that they're introduced to the water."
Stearns says that cub is now healthy, weighing 120 pounds.
According to Peet, Stearns uses the video of Ariel swimming to solicit donations, and used photos of a different tiger in marketing materials claiming to show Ariel's improvement.
"Dade City's Wild Things pulls tigers from their mothers days after their birth for photo-ops," Peet said. "The video speaks for itself. It reflects the day-to-day conditions of these animals."
"When you have 300 animals, there are going to be some minor violations."
It may be true that the special-needs tiger has grown up to be healthy. But it has historically been hard to keep track of the exotic animals DCWT has.