Six Flags Discovery Kingdom officials want people to know that a video making the Internet rounds depicting a trainer apparently repeatedly punching a white tiger in the face is a decade old and an issue dealt with at the time.
"It's a video from over 10 years ago that resurfaced," park spokeswoman Nancy Chan said. "That trainer was terminated because he wasn't acting inside our protocols. We don't condone the behavior depicted in the video, whatsoever."
Chan said she's fielded a slew of calls about the video since it resurfaced early Monday.
"Once they learn it's an old video, they understand," she said.
The video came to the Times-Herald's attention by email from Michael Stewart of Fremont,who said he stumbled across it accidentally and was concerned for the animals at Six Flags. Learning it was an old video was a relief, he said, though it also brought up an ongoing issue of the digital age.
"I assumed it was current, though I knew I didn't have all the facts," Stewart said. "I was concerned that if it was current someone should be looking into it. But that's the nature of the Internet; people post things and you don't know what you're looking at."
Looking closely at the video, anyone familiar with the park would notice some things to tip them off to its age, Chan said.
"That was an old show we no longer do -- the Tiger Splash Attack -- where the trainers were in there with them," she said. "If you look
old tiger exhibit, no longer used as a show venue."
It's never been OK for park trainers to punch animals, Chan said.
"All our trainers are instructed to treat all our animals with dignity and respect," she said.
"Our tigers are generally well-behaved and only trainers that have raised them as young cubs interact directly with them," the park's trainers said in a statement. "Our protocol is to use distraction methods such as treats and guides to redirect negative behavior towards themselves or trainers, and instead reinforce positive behavior."
Park officials "are disappointed that this old video resurfaced and is being treated as though it's current," Chan said.
Stewart said he'd likely react the same way in a similar situation.
"In a case like this, I would do the same thing, or maybe I'd Google first," he said. "I figure news organizations are better at researching these things than I might be."
Sometimes posters are unaware of what they're really posting, and sometimes they knowingly post things they know look like something they're really not to further some agenda, Stewart said.
"People assume things when they see things on the Internet," he said.
Contact staff writer Rachel Raskin-Zrihen at (707) 553-6824 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at Rachelvth. ------ (c)2013 Times-Herald (Vallejo, Calif.) Visit Times-Herald (Vallejo, Calif.) at www.timesheraldonline.com Distributed by MCT Information Services