New York officially establishes barrier between public and big cats

Cougars are among the big cats included in the ban
Tuesday, August 12, 2014
Washington, D.C.

The International Fund for Animal Welfare (www.ifaw.org) is pleased that Governor Andrew Cuomo today signed A.9004/S.6903 into law, prohibiting close contact between people and big cats. The legislature, introduced by Assembly Member, Linda B. Rosenthal (D/WF-Manhattan) and initiated by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), is aimed at safeguarding both people and animals.

“We worked in partnership with Assemblymember Rosenthal to introduce and pass this important legislation,” noted IFAW Campaigns Officer Carson Barylak.  “Her leadership and commitment to protecting the safety of New Yorkers and the welfare of captive wild cats provided the momentum needed to bring the bill to the governor’s desk.”

New York has strongly enforced a ban on the private possession of big cats and other dangerous wild animals since 2005. However, a major loophole has allowed some individuals and various USDA facilities to offer opportunities for the public to hold, pose for photos with, and otherwise interact with wild animals at roadside zoos, malls and other public areas throughout the state – increasing the possibility of attacks or escapes and placing the welfare of public, first responders and the animals at risk.

“With the signing of my bill, A.9004, into law today by Governor Cuomo, members of the public will no longer be permitted to have direct contact with big cats, which will likely prevent untold potential injury to unsuspecting consumers who are looking to pose for a photo or otherwise interact with big cats. In addition, by banning direct contact, we remove the profit motive driving roadside zoos.  I am so pleased that Governor Cuomo, seeing the wisdom in the bill, signed it into law, and cannot thank the International Fund for Animal Welfare more for their leadership on this issue,” said Assembly Member Rosenthal.

To address the widely fluctuating U.S. state laws on keeping big cats as pets, IFAW is spearheading a federal bill, the Big Cats and Public Safety Protection Act (H.R. 1998/S.1381), to end the big cat pet and roadside zoo trade across the country. The bill would end the private possession and breeding of captive big cats in all fifty states.

“By signing A.9004/S.6903 into law, Governor Cuomo positions New York as a leader in public safety and big cat protection,” Barylak explained. “We now call upon federal legislators to follow the State’s lead and act to address the nationwide big cat possession, breeding and handling crises—which have been responsible for the needless suffering of humans and animals alike—by passing H.R. 1998/S.1381.”

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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
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Peter Pueschel, Director, International Environmental Agreements
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Vivek Menon, Director of IFAW partner, Wildlife Trust of India
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