New York State Assembly passes bill putting distance between public and big cats

Thursday, 19 June, 2014
Washington, D.C

The New York State Assembly late yesterday signed bill A.9004-C/S.6903-C (Rosenthal/Avella) into law.  Introduced by Assembly Member, Linda B. Rosenthal (D-Manhattan) and initiated by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), the ruling prohibits direct contact between members of the public and tigers, lions and other dangerous wild animals owned by licensed dealers and exhibitors.

Regulations banning private ownership of big cats and other dangerous wild animals have been strongly enforced in New York since 2005; however, a major loophole has allowed certain individuals and some USDA-licensed facilities to regularly profit from charging the public a few to hold, take photos with, and otherwise interact with wild animals at roadside zoos, malls and other public areas throughout the state.

“By preventing the public’s contact with dangerous wild animals, my bill will ensure that the public is protected,” said Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal (D/WF-Manhattan). “While they may look cute and cuddly, big cats are born predators with instincts to kill despite any level of training.  In addition, the bill will protect the animals, who are often kept in deplorable conditions at roadside zoos masquerading as animal sanctuaries.  This law is a win-win, and I look forward to the Governor signing it into law.”

Incidents involving captive big cats in the United States have resulted in the deaths of 24 people in the past two decades – five of them children.  In addition, 300 people have been mauled or injured.

“Mixing wild animals with the public is just a bad idea no matter how you look at it.” adds Jeff Flocken, North American Regional Director, IFAW.  “It’s bad for the animals, and it’s dangerous for the people.  When the Governor signs this bill, New York will be able to count itself a leader on behalf of both human safety and animal welfare.”

In addition to the New York legislation, IFAW is spearheading a federal bill, the Big Cats and Public Safety Protection Act (H.R. 1998/S.1381), to end the big cat pet and roadside zoo trade across the country.

About IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare)
Founded in 1969, IFAW saves animals in crisis around the world. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW rescues individual animals, works to prevent cruelty to animals, and advocates for the protection of wildlife and habitats. For more information, visit Follow us on Facebook and Twitter..

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