5 min read

Video Of Zoo Tiger Pouncing At Girl Goes Viral For All The Wrong Reasons

Not cute.

With her back to the tiger enclosure, a little girl on camera yells in excitement.

As the big cat spots the little girl, she hunches down and slowly creeps up behind her. “I’m scared!” she can be heard saying on video. The person filming tells her to stand still so they can film.

Finally, the big cat pounces at the glass toward the girl — pushing her huge paws and face against the glass as the child runs away. The crowd watching laughs, and the frustrated animal stalks off after being teased.

This is the scene that recently went viral out of Potawatomi Zoo in Indiana this week — and animal lovers are not happy. Over 10,000 people have seen the video and advocates like Susan Bass, public relations coordinator for Florida’s Big Cat Rescue, says videos like these encourage people to torment zoo animals for the sake of social media shares.

It’s also very risky to do for everyone involved — including the animal.

“Luckily she didn’t hurl herself full-force into the glass,” Bass told The Dodo. “If the animal were to have broken the glass, the child would have been hurt and the tiger would end up paying for it with her life.”

It’s not uncommon for zoos to kill animals that break out of their enclosures or come in contact with the public, Bass said.

Last October in England, a leopard was shot by zoo employees after he escaped his enclosure after visiting hours. Officials stated it would be too dangerous to wait for tranquilizers to set in despite only staff being there at the time.

While it may seem cute to watch tigers behave like house cats, teasing them from behind the glass is not the most respectful way to interact with them, Bass said. The cats instinctively lurk and prowl to find food.

“Tigers prefer to sneak up behind their prey,” Bass said. “It’s very frustrating for the glass to be between him and what he sees as prey. It’s not fun at all for the tiger and this isn’t a normal type of enrichment.”

After the video was posted on social media, the zoo shared the post encouraging other visitors to do this during their visits as a form of enrichment for the animal.

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One of the tigers at the zoo yawning | Facebook/Potawatomi Zoo

“It's always so helpful when our guests give our tigers fun pouncing enrichment,” the zoo said in the post. “Tigers do prefer to sneak up behind their prey, so this is actually a completely natural behavior.”

Bass, however, is hopeful that people won’t take that advice.

“Animals don’t belong in the type of environment where people can constantly taunt them from behind glass,” Bass said. “It only stresses them out.”

To help rescued tigers, you can make a donation to Big Cat Rescue.