Statement Regarding the Siberian Tiger Incident at the San Francisco Zoo

Thursday, December 27, 2007
Yarmouth, MA
International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW - www.ifaw.org) CEO Fred O’Regan issued the following statement regarding the tiger incident at the San Francisco Zoo:
Representing over 2 million animal welfare advocates around the world, the International Fund for Animal Welfare extends its sincere condolences to the family of Carlos Sousa and the victims of yesterday’s tragedy at the San Francisco Zoo. Mr. Sousa’s death is the first ever visitor fatality due to an animal escape at an Association of Zoos and Aquariums-accredited facility. But the attack itself is not unprecedented.
 
In the U.S. alone, over 10,000 tigers reside not in accredited institutions with licensed professionals such as the San Francisco Zoo, but in private citizens’ backyards, basements and urban apartments – even more than remain in the wild. Since 2000, there have been over 190 incidents involving captive big cats and people resulting in 12 deaths, 89 injuries and 91 big cat escapes.
 
IFAW is working in states throughout the US to ban private ownership of big cats as pets and to prohibit direct contact between the general public and big cats of any age or weight including lions, tigers, leopards, cheetahs, jaguars, cougars and hybrids. About 20 states already prohibit the private ownership of large cats, but others have only minimal restrictions, lenient permitting requirements or no laws at all. 
 
Every state should prohibit the ownership of big cats such as tigers and lions as pets. These dangerous, wild animals are unpredictable and require specialized care that the average person cannot give.  

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