Leith Porsche wanted to do something special to introduce the Macan, a sleek new Porsche SUV named for the Indonesian word for tiger, so it arranged to have some real tiger cubs greet visitors at a celebration for the SUV in Raleigh on Thursday.
But Leith nixed the idea after hearing from the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, said Jason Jones, general manager for the dealership. The plan had been to showcase the animal and it all stands for, Jones said. “What we didn’t look at was the adverse effects of doing that,” he said.
Tigers cubs used for public demonstrations are often taken from their mothers when they are a few days old and are typically 8 to 12 weeks old when they take part in public events, said Danielle Katz, a campaign manager for PETA.
In the wild, Katz said, young tigers stay with their mothers for about two years. The animals are often kept in crates and transported from city to city by companies that own them, she said. “They’re helpless cubs,” Katz said.
Big Cat Rescue in Florida contacted PETA and said that Leith planned to use tigers during a special event, Katz said. PETA then learned that a Porsche dealership in Tampa., Fla., had used four cubs believed to be 3 weeks old in a similar demonstration, Katz said. according to Katz. The organization reached out to Porsche’s North American headquarters in Atlanta and also to the Florida dealership and to Leith.
Katz said it’s never a good idea for companies to use live animals for demonstrations. They can be held responsible if someone is injured, she said.
She pointed to an incident at Washington University in St. Louis this month in which a bear cub bit 18 people, prompting a rabies scare.
Jones said Leith had initially hoped to bring an adult tiger to Thursday’s event at the AIA N.C. Center for Architecture and Design, but city rules wouldn’t allow it.
So the dealership planned for the cubs instead, and an advertising agency was to make the arrangements, according to Jones.
Jones says he’s not too disappointed the local launch of the Macan – which starts at about $50,000 – won’t include tigers. There will still be food and maybe live music at the gathering.
“I think it’s going to be an exciting event,” Jones said. “Really, the car’s the star.”
PETA applauded the company’s decision.
“Their ethical stance really sets a positive example for other dealerships,” Katz said.