"The big cats ... are managed through fear, coercion, and punishment," Jay Pratte, an animal trainer with 25 years of experience who conducted the investigation, said in his report. "The announcers, trainers, and staff state that the animals are managed with rewards and through trust. However, what is actually occurring is environmental and physiological neglect, psychological abuse, and coercing the tigers to behave through dominance and fear-based techniques."
"When the goads or whips are raised, the cats flinch and shy back every time," he added. "When animals move forward as if to strike or react, they are yelled at and either quickly struck or startled back with whip cracks in the air or on the ground nearby."
And people shouldn't only be concerned about the animal's safety at such performances, Bass said. She pointed out that Pages, the trainer who was mauled in the video, has years of experience behind her.
"There's never a time when you have enough training and experience that something horrible can't happen," Bass said.
Those safety concerns aren't limited to trainers. At traveling shows in particular, animals are often restrained from the audience only by tethers or portable fences. In this case, Bass noted, the video shows that when the male trainer rushes into the enclosure to help his partner, he appears to leave the door unlocked behind him - meaning there was little barrier between the tigers and a crowd of children.