Students and parents were outraged after a caged tiger and other animals made an appearance at a jungle-themed Florida high school prom Friday.
Christopher Columbus High School, a private Catholic school in Miami, held its prom at a hotel near Miami International Airport, where a caged tiger was wheeled out onto the dance floor, according to WSVN-TV.
Amid fire dancers and loud music, the tiger was seen pacing back and forth in its cage and appeared nervous. Students could be seen filming the festivities on their cellphones.
Marie-Christine Castellanos, whose brother attended the prom, was shocked when she learned details about the event.
“This is an event to have fun and amusement, but is torturing an animal really considered amusement?” she told WSVN-TV. “You guys paid to see this happen to an innocent animal who had nowhere to run, who was completely afraid.”
Castellanos' mother, Maria, also expressed dismay with the event.
“I was appalled. We are animal advocates in this house,” she said.
"You guys paid to see this happen to an innocent animal who had nowhere to run, who was completely afraid.”
PETA slammed the high school for the display, saying animals “do not need to be in a party situation.”
Despite the criticism, the school’s marketing director defended the decision to bring in the animals, saying in a statement to WSVN-TV the animals were brought in by professionals and school officials were assured they were properly cared for.
“The event included jungle themed decorations and several animals were displayed in a very controlled situation, including a lemur, two macaws, an African fennec fox and a tiger,” the statement read.
All of the creatures were "provided by facilities that are licensed by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission," the statement added. The school said the hotel also approved the animals’ role in the performance.
“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,” officials said.