German tennis player Alexander Zverev, who has been a permanent fixture in the top 10 since 2017, has been slammed for showing footage of himself taunting a lioness at a private zoo in Dubai in a tug-of-war match.
Zverev, 24, recently won the 2021 ATP Finals in Turin and he reportedly went to Dubai with his girlfriend Sophia Thomalla, 32, after his big win to recharge his batteries and collect his prize money.
Last Sunday, the 24-year-old won the final against Russian defending champion Daniil Medvedev, 25, in straight sets and he took his girlfriend with him to Dubai to collect the prize money, which totals overs USD 2.1 million (EUR 1.9 million).
He spent some time there car racing, skydiving and sandboarding in the desert – but he was slammed when he was filmed doing a tug-of-war with this lion.
The footage shows the tennis ace pulling on a thick rope along with Brazilian tennis player Marcelo Melo, 38, while the tiger inside its enclosure pulls on the other end. Melo later shared the footage on Instagram.
His friend can be heard saying: “One, two, three!”
And Zverev, laughing, replies: “And what exactly do you want me to do… when you say three?”
Newsflash spoke to PETA Germany, who said: “At PETA Germany, we’re deeply disappointed that tennis player Alexander Zverev has visited the infamous private zoo ‘Fame park’ in Dubai and even participated in a ‘tug of war’ with a captive big cat.
“We have reached out to Alexander Zverev and informed him that zoos are essentially prisons for animals. For mere human entertainment, wild animals are locked up for life and put on display. The animals suffer from confinement and lack of mental stimulation; which is why many of them show signs of stereotypic behaviours in captivity.
“Baby animals in particular are often misused as visitor magnets and for cub petting. Animals such as bears or big cats are typically separated from their mothers prematurely to ‘tame’ them and trained by force and coercion to be used as profitable photo props.
“PETA Germany is urging Alexander Zverev to avoid zoos in the future and instead support or visit reputable sanctuaries, which do not breed animals into a life in captivity and would never encourage direct-contact encounters with wild animals in their care. PETA Germany is campaigning for an end to the keeping of animals in zoos, because animals are not there for human entertainment.”
And many netizens were not amused by the footage, with ‘larifreirern’ saying: “Animals are not entertainment. I never go to the zoo so as not to finance this kind of ‘fun’. Wild animals must be in their natural habitat. So sad.”
And ‘guireyy’ said: “Man, using an animal as a tourist attraction, no. It’s 2021 already, time to move on. Animals are not entertainment.”
After some downtime, the German tennis champion will be preparing for the Australian Open, which starts in Melbourne on 17th January 2022. He has not commented yet on the criticism.