PEORIA -- A traveling exhibit of big cats is back at the Shoppes on Grand Prairie shopping center, begging for money to "feed the tigers," charging people to have their photos taken near the cats, and selling trinkets.
A Peoria ordinance forbids spectators from touching the animals.
When the exhibit opened, the Peoria Humane Society sent a letter to the shopping center opposing it. The letter stated the display "teaches our children that it is acceptable to exploit wild animals for personal gain and that meeting (their) needs is secondary to profiting from them."
Mall officials apparently ignored the letter and allowed the exhibit to return. The space was free, an animal handler said last year.
On the morning of Aug. 28, spectators were mostly bored moms pushing strollers, desperately seeking to entertain their pre-schoolers.
The big cats of various ages and breeds lay panting in the heat.
They're scheduled to stay through Sept. 3.
Animal advocates criticize the breeding of big cats which quickly grow too large to be handled easily, and may end up on ranches where hunters can shoot them.
A spokeswoman for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, said last year that the breeding of these animals is irrelevant.
"As long as someone exploits them, someone will produce them," she said.
In a brochure, Big Cat Adventures lists a headquarters in Haltom City, Texas, near Fort Worth where 65 big cats live. But last year, a humane society official in North Texas had never heard of the place.
A handler said a refuge is opening soon in Oklahoma.