Parents outraged over caged tiger at Florida prom

MIAMI, Florida -- A tiger was among a number of live animals on display at a high school prom in Florida and some parents are outraged.

Cell phone video shows the tiger in its cage as performers entertained Christopher Columbus High School students in Miami on Saturday night. There was also a lemur, two macaws, and a fox at the event. The theme was "Welcome to the Jungle."

Some parents are upset because they believe the tiger was in distress.

"That tiger was in distress," said Maria Castellanos, a parent. "The reason he is pacing up and down and his ears (are) going back is because he is showing you distress."

The school said the tiger was never harmed or in danger.
"The tiger, which was displayed for a few minutes in a cage, was never harmed or in danger, was not forced to perform, was always accompanied by his handlers, and for the great majority of the time, was laying down in a relaxed state, facing away from the audience," a school spokesperson said.

A facility that is licensed by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission provided the animals. Despite credentialed handlers, Castellanos said it's the message that worries her.

"The saddest part of it all is teaching the children that there is no merit to the life of that animal -- that that animal doesn't deserve any better," Castellanos said.

Principal David Pugh said in a written statement released Monday that the school regrets the decision to have live animals at their prom.

"This went to (sic) far and We regret it," Pugh said.

Pugh said he trusted the teachers on the student activities committee to plan the event, but due to what happened this year, administrators will play a more active role in overseeing planning in the future.

Here's Pugh's full statement:

"Upon reflection, we regret the decision to have live animals at our prom. This decision in no way reflects the Marist values, teachings of the Catholic Church, and/or the accomplishments of our young men and that of our distinguished alumni. We remain proud of the work we do in our community by raising awareness for pediatric cancer, autism, and our homeless veterans to name a few."
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