Rick Thomas with his tiger. *Photo supplied
Rick Thomas with his tiger. *Photo supplied

Animal lovers have hit out at the way a tiger is to be used to entertain people.

The SPCA and its supporters are trying to stop magician Rick Thomas hosting his ‘ultimate tiger encounter show’ at the Fairmont Southampton.

The Bermuda Sun told on Wednesday how the Las Vegas entertainer is to appear nightly on stage with a white tiger from February 25 to March 5.

He will make the cat “appear then disappear” then the public can take photographs.

But at least five people have called the SPCA to say they are “very upset” at what is being planned.

They have sent letters expressing their concerns to the organizers, Mr. Thomas and Fairmont Southampton.

Kim Sherlaw, SPCA director, said: “We are absolutely against this as we do not promote the use of animals in entertainment.

“We acknowledge it takes place but there is a fine line between domesticated and wild animals being used.

“Tigers are not entertainers by nature, they are wild animals. This is exploiting animals for financial gain.

“Public safety is paramount. You can take precautions but this is an exotic animal used to hunting for food.”

Ms Sherlaw said the main concern was the welfare of the tiger if it was to suffer injury or distress as a result of the performance or during transportation.

Fundraising

She also questioned the availability of proper veterinary care for the tiger and the safety of the public.

The show is a fundraising event for the Sandys Rotary Club, collecting money for children and family events and PolioPlus.

Ms Sherlaw said: “There are many other fundraising opportunities they could have looked at. They need to reconsider this show.

“We do not feel that Mr. Thomas is a conservationist, rather he is an entertainer with a passion for exotic cats.”

Animal lover Erica Martin said objectors will do “whatever it takes” to stop the show, including launching a petition or holding peaceful protests.

She added: “I’m appalled and outraged. Wild animals should never be used for entertainment purposes, they are not novelty items.

“It is cruel and inhumane to keep exotic animals caged up in an unnatural state. You can’t put an animal of that size and magnificence on stage.”

But Sandys Rotary Club insists the show is “so much more than one tiger in a cage”.

The ‘ultimate tiger experience’ is said to be just a 30-minute segment of the show, with Mr. Thomas talking about tiger preservation and warning against buying tiger products.

David Sullivan, a Rotary Club spokesman, said: “A tiger in a cage is not the show at all.

“We would like to allay people’s fears and say it is an educational and conservational ­programme that has won a number of awards.

“We have an incredible history of putting on family events for 40 years and we would not compromise that.”

The tiger will remain in a cage at all times and will be protected by security guards.