Concerns voiced about conditions of state fair tigers

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SEDALIA - Concerned residents are questioning the conditions of tigers exhibited at the Missouri State Fair.

On Tuesday, many KOMU 8 News viewers called in with concerns about the physical appearance of tigers at the state fair. Photos of the exhibit have gone viral with multiple sanctuaries sharing the photos through their social media pages and encouraging users to take action.

The exhibit, the Amazing Rainforest Adventures, is run by the Florida based company, One World. The pictures shared through social media depict what is being described as a thin tiger.

"You could see that they were all just too thin. You know, I've been to circuses and zoos before and I've never see tigers that thin," said fairgoer Sarah Doty.

Fairgoer Kevin Walker said he has been to the fair almost every day to check on the tiger and he is concerned. 

"He had the tiger rolled over and was rubbing the belly area, well it reminded me of when a person loses a lot of weight, a 300-pound person maybe loses 100-pounds and they have that excess skin, well that's what it reminded me of," Walker said. 

Complaints filed with USDA

After seeing the photos, Crown Ridge Tiger Sanctuary in Missouri contacted its USDA inspector.

The Wildcat Sanctuary in Minnesota also shared photos through its Facebook. Executive director Tammy Thies said she is worried about the public safety risk and the animal's welfare.

Thies described the thin tigers as a time bomb waiting to happen. The Wildcat Sanctuary tried to find out who is accountable for the safety of the animals and public, but said it keeps getting passed along.

Missouri residents are also taking it upon themselves to file complaints in the state. Sedalia resident Brenda Closser filed a formal complaint with the USDA Monday afternoon.

While Closser has not been to the fair herself, she said many of her friends had shared photos through Facebook, and she decided to take action. 

"I hope the animals get help, either they remove them from the people and place them somewhere where they can get help or they find him and make him make changes," Closser said.

Closser said the USDA told her it had processed her complaint and would send an investigator out.

Dept. of Agriculture, state fair and tiger trainer 

The Missouri Department of Agriculture and The Missouri State Fair stated in identical emails: "The Missouri Department of Agriculture state veterinarians monitor the tigers twice per day. All animals on the fairgrounds are monitored regularly by veterinarians."

After a tiger show Tuesday night, one of the trainers spoke to KOMU 8 News about the tigers' care.

"What people see in the show is the fun part of my day, and it's literally only a hundredth of my day. There's vet care, there's husbandry everyday, there's diet prep, cage cleaning front and back," One World trainer Robert Mullen said. 

Mullen declined to comment specifically on the recent complaints. 

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