Louisiana prohibits private ownership of big cats. It is unlawful to possess tigers, lions, leopards, jaguars, cheetahs, cougars, subspecies of those named cats, and hybrids. A person in possession of a big cat prior to August 15, 2006 may continue possession with a permit and that permit must be renewed annually. Some institutions are exempt and may possess big cats, including AZA-accredited zoos, research facilities, state colleges or universities with big exotic cats as their mascots, and circuses. AZA-accredited sanctuaries may possess big cats with a permit if enclosure and handling requirements preventing contact with the public are satisfied. Non-AZA educational institutions or zoos may possess big cats with a permit issued at the discretion of the Department.