New Hampshire

Summary: 

New Hampshire prohibits private possession of big cats. Any person in possession of a big cat prior to 1992, however, will be issued a permit and may continue to possess the animal. Exhibitors may also possess big cats with a permit. An exhibitor is a person holding a USDA Exhibitor’s Permit and who shows, displays, or trains big cats regardless of whether the public is charged a fee to view the big cat. The Fish and Game Department will issue the twenty-dollar annual permit if no significant risk to public safety or animal welfare would result from possession.

Classification: 
Ban
Color: 
gray

New York

Summary: 

New York prohibits private possession of big cats. Under New York law, it is unlawful to possess a wild animal as a pet. However, any person who possessed a big cat at the time the law came into effect in 2004 may continue possession. Some institutions may possess big cats, including zoos, public exhibitors, USDA-licensed research facilities, state universities and private colleges working with wild animals, state agencies working with wild animals, wildlife rehabilitators, and wildlife sanctuaries may possess big cats. New York State also bans direct contact between the public and big cats.

Classification: 
Ban
Color: 
gray

New Mexico

Summary: 

New Mexico prohibits private possession of some big cats. It is unlawful for any person to possess an animal classified as a restricted species under New Mexico law and the Department of Game and Fish classifies leopards, clouded leopards, snow leopards, jaguars, Florida panthers, tigers, and ocelots as restricted species.

Additionally, the importation of big cats into the state is regulated. New Mexico classifies non-domestic wildlife in four groups and species listed in Group IV may not be imported for the general public. Group IV species include the cheetah, caracal, Florida panther, ocelot, lynx, jaguarondi, Geoffroy’s cat, tiger, margay, serval, lynx, bobcat, leopard, lion, jaguar, tiger, and snow leopard. However, an exception to this importation restriction may be granted for scientific studies with approved restoration and recovery plans, zoological displays, temporary entertainment, or for importation by qualified experts.

Classification: 
Ban
Color: 
gray

Rhode Island

Summary: 

In Rhode Island, it is lawful to possess big cats with a permit from the Department of Environmental Management. Private citizens, exhibitors, USDA licensed research facilities, and AZA-accredited zoos are all subject to the permit requirement. Permit requirements include a five dollar permit fee, a description of the animal and its place of origin, the big cat’s arrival time into Rhode Island, a health certificate verifying the big cat’s health, and a description of the manner in which the animal’s nutritional, housing, and exercise needs will be met. If the owner plans to breed the big cat, a breeding permit is required.

Classification: 
Permit
Color: 
blue

Tennessee

Summary: 

Tennessee prohibits private ownership of most big cats. Lions, tigers, leopards, jaguars, cheetahs, and cougars are classified as Class I Wildlife under Tennessee law because they are inherently dangerous to humans. Class I Wildlife ownership is limited to zoos, circuses, commercial breeders with a Commercial Propagator Permit, and individuals who possessed the big cat prior to June 25, 1991 and hold a Personal Possession Permit. However, bobcats and hybrids are classified as Class III Wildlife under Tennessee law and may be privately possessed without a permit.

The Personal Possession Permit requires permit holders be at least twenty-one years of age with two years of experience handling Class I animals. The permit holder must have a recapture plan and uphold facility requirements like either living on site or employing a full-time onsite caretaker, and prohibiting direct contact between the public and the big cat.

Classification: 
Ban
Color: 
gray

North Dakota

Summary: 

It is lawful to possess a big cat in North Dakota with a permit. Under North Dakota law, mountain lions, lions, jaguars, leopards, lions, tigers, and cheetahs are classified as Category 3 Wildlife because they pose an inherent danger or environmental hazard. Owners of Category 3 Wildlife must hold an Importation Permit and a Nontraditional Livestock License from the Game and Fish Department or the Board of Animal Health. These regulations require a health certification from a veterinarian, consent to inspection of all health records and facilities, and a detailed map of the facilities. Licenses must be renewed annually and may cost up to one hundred dollars.

Classification: 
Permit
Color: 
blue

Oklahoma

Summary: 

It is lawful to possess big cats in Oklahoma with a permit. Oklahoma’s non-commercial wildlife breeder's license allows a person to keep big cats as pets. This license must be renewed annually at a fee of ten dollars. A commercial wildlife breeder's license allows a person to keep big cats as pets and to sell big cats to other license holders. This license must be renewed annually at a fee of forty-eight dollars and it requires that an annual report be filed with information about any sales, purchases, and births of big cats.

Classification: 
Permit
Color: 
blue

Ohio

Summary: 

Ohio's newly enacted law prohibits big cat ownership beginning January 1, 2014. Current owners of big cats may continue possession only if they obtain either a license from the U.S. Department of Agriculture or accreditation from the American Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Some institutions are exempt from this ban, including A.Z.A accredited facilities, research facilities, circuses, wildlife rehabilitation centers or sanctuaries, or, in limited circumstances, educational institutions with a big cat mascot.

Classification: 
Ban
Color: 
gray

South Dakota

Summary: 

South Dakota allows private possession of big cats with a permit. It is lawful to possess any nondomestic big cat, including hybrids, with a Possession Permit. Permit holders must meet facility requirements designed to protect public and animal safety and they must keep adequate records about the animal and facility. The permit fee is ten dollars per animal with a maximum of one hundred dollars for multiple big cats.  Other permits allow for possession of big cats, including the Grandfather Permit, Dealer Auction Permit, Zoo Permit, and Temporary Permit.

Classification: 
Permit
Color: 
blue

South Carolina

Summary: 

South Carolina does not restrict private ownership of big cats. However, South Carolina law makes it unlawful to sell as a pet any carnivore not normally domesticated in South Carolina. This law may restrict where a big cat is sold or purchased.

State: 
South Carolina
Classification: 
No Restriction
Color: 
red