This weekend, the ouroboros of quarantine finally looped back around to eat its own tail. Only, instead of a snake, imagine a giant tiger chowing down on its rear end. In a statement to Billboard, Carole Baskin called out Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion’s recently released “WAP” music video for featuring big cats, including leopards and white tigers. The issue at hand for the Tiger King subject isn’t the proximity of exotic animals to our nation’s most beloved rappers (the cats are clearly edited in after the fact), but rather where said leopards and tigers came from, who they were provided by, and how they were trained in order to be filmed.
“My guess is that most people won’t even see the Photoshopped cats in the scenes because the rest of it is so lurid,” Baskin told Billboard. “I was happy to see that it does appear to all be Photoshopped. It didn’t look like the cats were really in the rooms with the singers. In fact, probably most of the rooms were Photoshopped in via green screen. That being said, you have to pose a wildcat in front of a green screen to get that image, and that doesn’t happen in the wild.”
“It can’t happen in sanctuaries like ours where cats have plenty of room to avoid a green screen (or would shred it if offered access and could die from ingesting it),” she continues. “That tells me they probably dealt with one of the big-cat pimps, who makes a living from beating, shocking, and starving cats to make them stand on cue in front of a green screen in a studio. That’s never good for the cat.”
On a larger scale, claims Baskin, using big cats as visual shorthand for opulence and luxury can feed into the public desire to own them, or at least buy access to them when they’re in their prime. “The worst part is that it glamorizes the idea of rich people having tigers as pets,” she says. “That makes every ignorant follower want to imitate by doing the same. After tigers are too old for pay-to-play sessions by people like Joe Exotic, Bhagavan Antle, Marc McCarthy, Mario Tabraue, and others, they become a liability instead of an asset. While I think most are destroyed behind closed gates at that point, some end up being given away to people who want to have a tiger to show off. That never works out, and the cats either die or end up dumped in sanctuaries or, worse yet, breeding mills. Either way, it’s always abusive to the cat.”