Proposed legislation that would outlaw public contact with lions, tigers, and other big cats and their cubs – including at inhumane roadside zoos – has now passed the House of Representatives and also has President Joe Biden’s backing.
H.R. 263, this Congress’s iteration of the Big Cat Public Safety Act, also would prohibit people from keeping big cats as “pets.”
The bill sailed through the House with bipartisan support and a vote of 278 to 134. The Office of Management and Budget also issued a statement saying the current administration “supports HR 263, the Big Cat Public Safety Act, which would build on existing laws that protect big cats.”
Similar legislation, spurred by the exposé of horrific conditions in the controversial Netflix series Tiger King, died formerly in the Senate, where the bill now heads.
But growing awareness about the atrocious circumstances for big cats used for people’s “entertainment” gives us new hope that this year will be the year the government enacts this critical legislation.
Inspection reports from the federal U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reveal that big cats in licensed facilities often languish in barren cages, where they are improperly fed and not provided with adequate veterinary care.
Cubs often are ripped from their mothers for photo opportunities with paying customers, who handle them day after day until they get too large for public interactions, at which point they are sent often to roadside zoos, end up in basements or backyards as “pets”, or “disappear,” said Kitty Block, CEO of the Humane Society of the United States, whose lobbying efforts also back the bill.
“The big cat breeding and cub petting industry creates a cycle of never-ending misery for the animals involved,” she said. “As long as cub petting remains legal, nothing will prevent the next generation of profiteering con artists from casting vulnerable big cats to an uncertain fate.”
Animal activist and rescuer Carole Baskin, made famous through her feud with now-incarcerated tiger breeder Joe Exotic documented in Netflix’s controversial “Tiger King,” supports the bill. She’s been seen on Capital Hill with lawmakers and staff.
“It is an enormous expense to care for these animals, and reckless behavior foists a massive long-term financial liability on animal sanctuaries,” Baskin told news. “None of these private big cat owners holds onto the animals for very long, and that means they get turned over to groups like Big Cat Rescue that have to take in these traumatized, often very unhealthy animals.”
Lady Freethinker sent our petition, signed by more than 69,000 people, to Congress, urging them for a quick review and full support of this bill. Thank you to everyone who signed and helped us speak up for these precious animals. If you haven’t already signed, please do so, and share with your friends and family!