DADE CITY, Fla. -- A federal order directs Dade City's Wild Things to not allow visitors to swim with tiger cubs because the activity exposes the animals to "rough or excessive handling." The order includes a $21,000 fine.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture, according to the Tampa Bay Times, issued the order on Feb. 15 and it takes effect March 22. The agency said the cubs swimming allowed the animals to be harmed and exposed visitors to danger four times from September 2011 and October 2012.
The order also says Wild Things -- owned by Kathy and Randy Stearns -- must not show animals for 60 days. The zoo has until March 17 to appeal.
The move comes after a lawsuit by the Department of Agriculture in 2015 that cited Animal Welfare Act violations. A lawsuit People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals filed in October, alleging the zoo's encounter program violates the Endangered Species Act, is still pending.