Congress should follow New York’s example and enhance protections for big cats

© Princess Alia Foundation

On Monday, August 11—just one day after World Lion Day—New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law A.9004/S.6903, a bill to prohibit direct contact between the public and dangerous big cats.

The enactment of this critical legislation makes New York a leader in the protection of communities and big cats, and provides a strong example for other states to follow.

This heartening news comes on the heels of numerous challenges to the welfare and protection of lions and other big cats, both in the wild and in captivity, across the United States.

In California, for instance, a wild mountain lion was recently exposed to rodent poison at a Los Angeles park, while camera footage recorded in Norwalk captured what some speculate is a once-captive African lion. Elsewhere, lion meat has appeared in restaurants making misguided attempts to add novelty to their menus, and lion trophies from canned hunts continue to be brought into the U.S.

Fortunately, we are making progress in addressing the many challenges encountered by big cats both in captivity and in the wild. In addition to advancing A.9004/S.6903 in New York, IFAW has sought to put a stop to trophy import and wildlife trafficking that adversely impacts big cats, proposed establishment of Endangered Species Act protections for African lions, and undertaken successful rescue operations to remove captive big cats from inhumane and dangerous conditions.

Though things are beginning to look up for big cats in the U.S., there is still a great deal of progress to be made. It is time for Congress to follow New York’s lead and pass federal legislation that will better protect big cats and the public.

Hopefully, when next year’s World Lion Day arrives there will be even more progress to celebrate.


Join IFAW in urging Congress to follow New York’s example and take action to protect both animals and people. Contact your Representative and Senators and encourage them to cosponsor the Big Cats and Public Safety Protection Act (S.1381/H.R.1998).

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Azzedine Downes,IFAW President and CEO
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Beth Allgood, Country Director, United States
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Cynthia Milburn, Director, Animal Welfare Outreach & Education
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Dr. Maria (Masha) N. Vorontsova, Regional Director, Russia & CIS
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Faye Cuevas, Esq.
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Peter LaFontaine, Campaigns Manager, IFAW Washington, D.C.
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Sonja Van Tichelen, Vice President of International Operations
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Tania McCrea-Steele, Project Lead, Global Wildlife Cybercrime
Project Lead, Global Wildlife Cybercrime