Florida law permits private possession of some species of big cats and prohibits private possession of others. It is unlawful to privately possess animals classified as Class I, including snow leopards, leopards, jaguars, tigers, and lions. However, a person in possession of a Class I big cat prior to August 1980 may continue possession with a permit.
It is lawful to possess Class II big cats with a permit issued by the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Class II cats include servals, lynx, cougars, panthers, bobcats, cheetahs, caracals, African golden cats, Asiatic golden cats, fishing cats, ocelots, and clouded leopards. State-run facilities, traveling zoos, circuses, and exhibits are exempt and may possess these big cats without a permit. To obtain a permit, information about the owner’s experience and education in handling big cats must be provided, caging requirements must be met, and public contact must be restricted.