Congress briefing urges support for Big Cat Public Safety Act



Last week, IFAW hosted a briefing on the Big Cat Public Safety Act (H.R. 3546) in collaboration with the Congressional Animal Protection Caucus (CAPC) and NGO partners. Representatives Walter Jones (original sponsor), Mike Fitzpatrick (CPAC co-chair), and Earl Blumenauer (CAPC co-chair) spoke in support of the bill. Rep. Jones announced that he will push for a committee hearing after the holiday recess, and Reps. Fitzpatrick and Blumenauer urged fellow Members to get involved. 

Because the emphasis of the briefing was public safety, law enforcement specialist Tim Harrison spoke about the importance of the bill to protecting first responders and communities. He shared shocking stories about the threats to which police officers, firefighters, paramedics, and other emergency responders are regularly exposed as a result of the nation’s poorly regulated exotic pet trade.

Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) emphasizes the need for restrictions on big cat ownership and encourages other Members of Congress to support the Big Cat Public Safety Act.Panelists also highlighted conservation and animal welfare implications of H.R. 3546. Ron Kagan, Director of the Detroit Zoo (which has rescued junkyard lions), distinguished legitimate zoos from roadside menageries, and emphasized that domestic breeding and possession of big cats does nothing to protect or enhance wild populations. Carole Baskin, founder and CEO of Big Cat Rescue, shared her experiences and described the awful living conditions and physical abuse to which privately owned big cats (like one named Shaquille) are routinely subjected. 

In addition to drawing a standing-room-only crowd of House and Senate staff members to the briefing, speakers met with individual House offices to ask for their support. We will continue to work with first responders, sanctuaries, and the many other groups (including college students, the arts community, state policymakers and legal experts) that support the Big Cat Public Safety Act to make this critical issue a priority for Congress.   


To help us advance the Big Cat Public Safety Act (H.R. 3546), contact your Representative today and urge him or her to support this common sense measure to protect community safety and animal welfare.

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Dr. Maria (Masha) N. Vorontsova, Senior Advisor to the IFAW Marine Conservation
Senior Advisor to the IFAW Marine Conservation Program
Grace Ge Gabriel, Regional Director, Asia
Regional Director, Asia
Vivek Menon, Director of IFAW partner, Wildlife Trust of India
Consulting Senior Advisor to the CEO on Strategic Partnerships & Philanthropy