One trainer showed him several scars, Pratte said, and told him that "We get a lot of bites and scratches."
"Ironically, during announcements before the circus shows, the Ringling MC announces that animals are all trained using 'reward and repetition,'" Pratte said. "I observed only two or three separate instances of a food reward being offered to one of the tigers ... The cats know only fear, dominance, and punishment."
When the animals weren't being frightened into performing, Pratte said, their lives weren't much better. They spend much of their time on the road, packed into crates or train cars (several years ago, a young lion died after being left in a Ringling train car in sweltering heat with no water).
When they're not traveling, their living areas are severely lacking, Pratte said. In the wild, tigers would be living in lush habitats surrounded by trees and water sources. When Pratte visited, the tigers were penned up in a parking lot in tiny fenced cages. The day was hot, but there was no shade for much of the morning. They had no pools to swim in, despite being naturally aquatic. The pens were barren, with no toys or enrichment aside from "a couple of small logs."