Big Cat Public Safety Act reintroduced in the US House

Big cats in captivity—many of which are not subject to reporting or documentation requirements under current federal and state law—are not allowed to live naturally in the wild and they can potentially harm area residents if they escape.This week, Representatives Jeff Denham (R-CA 10th District), Walter Jones (R-NC 3rd District) and Niki Tsongas (D-MA 3rd District) led members of the US House in reintroducing the Big Cat Public Safety Act (H.R. 1818). This bipartisan bill, if enacted, will prohibit private ownership of captive lions, tigers, and other big cats in the US.

It is estimated that there are more than 10,000 captive big cats in private hands across the country. In addition to being kept in deplorable conditions and exploited, these animals—many of which are not subject to reporting or documentation requirements under current federal and state law—threaten public safety, place first responders in harm’s way, and drain financial resources from local police and emergency departments. The Big Cat Public Safety Act, if enacted, will protect animals and people alike throughout the US.

Rep. Denham explained that the Act “makes the procedures for owning and breeding big cats explicitly clear so that we can give assurance to private citizens and the law enforcement community, in addition to ensuring humane treatment and handling of these animals.”

As the public increasingly rejects the exploitation of big cats for entertainment and tourism, calls for essential protections in the wild, and acknowledges that apex predators are not pets—both in the US and abroad—it is time to take the next step and bring an end to the dangerous pet trade. I look forward to working with you to pass this critical legislation and protect big cats.


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Dr. Maria (Masha) N. Vorontsova, Regional Director, Russia & CIS
Regional Director, Russia & CIS
Gail A'Brunzo, Manager, Wildlife Rescue
Manager, Wildlife Rescue
Grace Ge Gabriel, Regional Director, Asia
Regional Director, Asia
Vivek Menon, Director of IFAW partner, Wildlife Trust of India
Senior Advisor to the CEO on Strategic Partnerships & Philanthropy