Sure, via the miracle of the internet, we’ve all seen Dockett’s Twitter pix of the young cub, but as for an honest to goodness real-life, flesh-blood-and-teeth sighting … anybody?
A Florida-based animal-rights organization has raised the possibility that Dockett’s tiger might be as real as Manti Teo’s girlfriend.
A press release issued by the Animal Rights Foundation of Florida began looking into Dockett’s claims and followed the trail of Instagram and Twitter breadcrumbs to Predators Unlimited, a wildlife preserve in Homestead, Fla.
The preserve’s Facebook page (left) shows a photo of Dockett with an adult tiger that strongly resembles a photo posted on Dockett’s Instagram page (right), claiming to be “the mother of my new cub tiger.”
Jeremy and Grisel Possman, owners of Predators Unlimited, told ARFF that they do not breed or sell animals, and Grisel Possman said “the tiger in the picture is a male, so it can’t be the ‘mother’ of any cub. And we have not had tiger cubs in years.”
Predators Unlimited said it has contacted the USDA and Florida’s state wildlife agency concerning Dockett’s claims.
“It is looking like Dockett’s story of purchasing a tiger cub may be a hoax,” said ARFF Communications Director Don Anthony. “Although we do not know the origin of the tiger cub in the photo that Dockett posted on social media, it appears that his story about the cub’s parentage is false.”
The animal-rights organization PETA is also looking into Dockett’s claims. It sent a letter Friday to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Arizona Game and Fish Department — something Dockett apparently expected when he declined to detail the tiger’s living conditions last week.
The Endangered Species Act broadly prohibits private ownership of tigers without a special permit, and the Captive Wildlife Safety Act prohibits transporting tigers (and similar big cats) across state lines.
“Tigers are endangered, they’re dangerous, and it’s illegal — and cruel — to buy them and keep them as ‘pets’ in Arizona,” PETA director of captive animal law enforcement Delcianna Winders said in a statement. “PETA is calling on the authorities to make sure that any tiger Darnell Dockett may have bought ends up at an accredited sanctuary — not in a cage in a football player’s backyard.”