Ongoing investigation over tiger incident at Naples preserve

Reporter: Michelle Alvarez
Published: Updated:

There’s an investigation surrounding a viral video where a person touched a white tiger at a Naples preserve, and it has taken social media by storm.

The person could be facing much more trouble than just a citation.

The director of Kowiachobee Animal Preserve in Collier County was given a citation after letting
her family pet white tigers there.

The video was originally posted on social media by a relative and shows the person touching the tiger’s nose.

Jeff Kremer is an animal activist and reposted the video. He reported it to Florida Fish and Wildlife.

“This touching of the tiger violated a Florida state regulation, it also violated a federal regulation, so actually, we’re awaiting a response from the federal government, FWS, to see if they’re going to take any action as well,” Kremer said.

According to the report, the owner of the preserve said he does not allow contact with the tigers, and in the video posted by the facility, you can see employees touching lions and tigers through cages,
with visitors standing behind a fence.

“There’s very clear criteria with numerous layers of protection to prevent the sort of interaction that this person did, clearly by violating the protocols,” said Nora Demers, biology associate professor at FGCU.

Kremer said people think these animals are pets just because they’re in cages, but too often people forget they’re apex predators.

“We have more tigers in the United States in captivity than all of the world in the wild, and that’s a pretty sad statement right there. They’re in captivity for the wrong reason. You have accredited zoos, AZA. The accredited zoos that are breeding tigers for species survival plan, SSP plans, all these nefarious roadside zoos are breeding for nothing other than profit and ego,” Kremer said.

Back in 2021, a third-party contractor was mauled by a different tiger at Naples Zoo while in an area they were not authorized to be in.

He was seriously hurt, and the tiger named Eko was killed to save his life.

The Kowiachobee Animal Preserve does not want to comment on the video, but they said there’s an ongoing investigation.

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