(Meredith/AP) — A Florida high school decided to take the jungle theme for prom a bit too seriously for some students.
Students, parents and teachers from Christopher Columbus High School took to social media to say that a wild tiger at last Friday's prom was animal abuse.
Footage shows the tiger pacing inside a small enclosure as bright lights flashed around him.
A teen, whose brother attends the all-boys private school, posted on Facebook and said the tiger "was used as an exotic amusement for the mindless teenagers who were present."
Parent Maria Castellanos told WPLG that she was concerned not only for the safety of the students but for the tiger itself.
"That tiger was in distress," she said. "The reason he's pacing up and down, up and down, with his tail going and his ears all folded back, is showing you distress... These animals are not entertainment."
School administrators said in a statement that the venue approved it and that the animals were provided by facilities licensed by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
Principal David Pugh apologized for the use of the animal in a written statement released Monday.
"We recognize this decision has offended some and for that we apologize. Although it was in a controlled environment and handled by professionals approved by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation, we understand how some individuals may be concerned," Pugh said.
He continued: "Upon reflection, we regret the decision to have live animals at our prom. This decision in no way reflects the Marist values, teachings of the Catholic Church, and/or the accomplishments of our young men and that of our distinguished alumni. We remain proud of the work we do in our community by raising awareness for pediatric cancer, autism, and our homeless veterans to name a few."
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