An animal-rights activist who painted tiger stripes on her nearly nude body and sat in a cage in downtown Charlotte, N.C., to protest circuses is employed by the U.S. government, working as a project point-person for the Environmental Protection Agency, WorldNetDaily has learned.

PETA activist Jabeen Akhtar, who works for the U.S. EPA, painted her nude body like a tiger to protest the circus coming to town in Charlotte, N.C. (photo: Jonathan Jones/Special to WND)

But Jabeen Akhtar emphasized in an a WND interview that her volunteer work, as a private citizen, for PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, is entirely separate from her job with the federal government bureau.

“I don’t want to talk about myself,” she said. “It distracts from the reason I was [in Charlotte]. It was because I feel very strongly about the abuse that happens behind the scenes at the circus.”

Akhtar was part of a demonstration Feb. 7 that preceded the arrival in town of the Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey Circus.

In a letter provided to WND, Akhtar explained she “appeared caged, nude, and painted like a tiger in downtown Charlotte, N.C., to draw attention to the way animals suffer in circuses like the Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey Circus.

“Although it was uncomfortable to sit on the pavement exposed to the public, the hour I spent sitting on the sidewalk was nothing compared to what the animals go through every day of their short, miserable lives,” she said.

Akhtar would not give details about her job but clarified she is not a spokeswoman for the EPA. She has been listed, however, as a contact person for the benefit of organizations, companies and agencies interested in projects with names such as “Protection of Stratospheric Ozone: Phaseout of
Chlorobromomethane Production and Consumption.”

PETA alleges, in a special website, that trainers use metal bullhooks, whips, muzzles, and electric prods in order to get wild animals to perform “stressful and often painful acts.”

Matt Rice, a PETA spokesman at headquarters in Norfolk, Va., went to Charlotte to help coordinate the demonstration.

He told WND it was a “kind of a lighthearted and fun way to draw attention” to how the circuses abuse animals.

Rice said that despite Akhtar’s lack of clothing, “We were well within our First Amendment rights.”

Akhtar was wearing “panties and pasties,” he said, and police officers were friendly.

Rice explained that PETA tries to go ahead of Ringling Bros. and hold a demonstration in each city in which performances are scheduled.

“We do get a great response whenever we do these kinds of demonstrations,” he said. “People are shocked to hear tigers are whipped and kept in tiny cages where they can barely turn around.”

PETA President Ingrid Newkirk contended in a statement that the circus is desperately trying to hide beatings from the public.

“These animals are not volunteers,” she said. “They have been deprived of their precious freedom and beaten for a lifetime of cheap tricks.”

Akhtar, who recalls becoming an animal-rights activist at age 13, told WND she didn’t know who originated the idea of playing the part of a caged tiger but said she worked with Rice to develop the protest.

The only reason she would do such a provocative thing is because of her deep passion for the cause, she said.

“Ringling heralds itself as the greatest show on Earth, but I think it is the greatest sham on Earth,” Akhtar declared.

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