Chelsea defender Chilwell criticised by RSPCA for 'tug of war' with tiger at theme park

Ben Chilwell Chelsea 2021-22Getty Images

Chelsea defender Ben Chilwell has been criticised by the RSPCA for playing "tug of war" with a tiger at a theme park.

Chilwell has been out of action since suffering cruciate knee ligament damage in November, and was left out of England's latest squad for the international break.

The 25-year-old has been on holiday while the Premier League is on hiatus as he continues his recovery, but has been involved in an animal rights incident while at a zoo.

What happened?

A video circulating on social media has shown Chilwell tussling with a tiger at a theme park in Florida, with the predator seen biting one end of a meat-covered rope from inside an enclosure while the Chelsea star pulled in the opposite direction from the safety of the visiting area.

The 'Tiger Tug' attraction is designed to test customers' strength against the tiger and has reportedly been running at Busch Gardens, Tampa for the last few years.

What have the RSPCA said?

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has reacted negatively to the video in an official statement, during which they suggest that the attraction should be discontinued.

“We don’t feel this activity promotes respect for these wild animals and should not be marketed for public entertainment," the animal charity's statement reads.

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“Zoos often state that their aim is to educate the public and have a positive influence on visitor behaviour in ways that will directly benefit conservation.

"While we understand zoos which do this may feel that a ‘tug-of-war’ provides physical enrichment for big cats, there are many alternative ways of doing this.”

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