Big cats should be running wild, not through your living room

On a recent episode of “Grey’s Anatomy,” the storyline involved a couple who was brought into the hospital after being severely mauled by a pet lion. The woman had kept the lion in her home for 15 years; however, one questionable move by the woman’s date landed them both in the hospital. The lesson? When people take wild animals into their homes and treat them like adorable, innocent kittens, things can go very badly.

People often forget that cute, cuddly cubs quickly grow into dangerous, massive animals that just aren’t meant to be in captivity–especially in a living room.  Many big cats that are kept as pets often end up going through cruel surgical procedures to make them more "tame," are given away by their owners to roadside circuses and “zoos”, or even illegal hunted and killed.

Keeping big cats as family "pets" is cruel to the animals and is dangerous for the owners and people in the surrounding community. While some regulations at the state level are making big cat pet ownership more difficult, keeping big cats as pets is generally legal across the country.

However, H.R. 4122, the Big Cats and Public Safety Protection Act, would change that by prohibiting private ownership of big cats nationwide, ensuring that exotic big cats do not threaten public safety or end up in an environment where they are subject to cruelty. The bill would require that all big cats be registered with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to keep better track of who currently owns exotic big cats.

Why do people still feel the need to keep these big cats as pets? Dr. Bailey, a character on "Grey’s Anatomy," said it best: “Don’t say it’s because you love lions so much. If you love lions you wouldn’t want it to live in your home. You would want that lion to roam freely in the jungle with other lions.”

Our thoughts exactly.

If you echo Dr. Bailey’s sentiment, tell your Representative to co-sponsor H.R. 4122.


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Dr. Maria (Masha) N. Vorontsova, Regional Director, Russia & CIS
Regional Director, Russia & CIS
Gail A'Brunzo, IFAW Wildlife Rescue Manager
Wildlife Rescue Manager, IFAW HQ
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