Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

ADI supports Bill to protect big cats in the US

Posted: 28 January 2014. Updated: 31 May 2017


A bill to protect big cats in the US.

The Big Cat Public Safety Act (HR1818) seeks to prohibit the private ownership, breeding, exploitation (as props for cub petting and photo ops), and trade of big cats and their body parts. If passed, current owners would be permitted to keep their animals, but must register them, and they could not acquire more or breed those they have. Currently, there is no comprehensive registration or tracking of cats bred, traded, or dying in the US.

Originally tabled in 2012, the bill was reintroduced again this year under bipartisan sponsorship with the support of animal protection organizations including ADI and rescue centers across the US.

The Big Cat Public Safety Act aims to:

    • Prevent Neglect/Abuse Captive big cats are frequently defanged and/or declawed (a practice prohibited by USDA since 2005); they are expensive to feed and often end up malnourished. Exhibitors rely upon physical abuse and drugs to bring these dangerous species in direct contact with the public perpetuating a false narrative that they can be tamed or exist in close quarters with humans. Current regulations permit tiny, barren, inappropriate caging for these naturally wide-ranging species. Big cats are frequently bred to supply the constant recycling of new cubs for petting and photo ops. The US does not track this, and what happens to the cubs, and the numbers of cubs involved, remains unclear. After the young cubs grow too large, they may be sold to roadside zoos, enter parts and derivatives trafficking routes, or disappear altogether.
    • Enable Conservation of Wild Populations Breeding big cats in captivity serves no conservation purpose; it actually negatively impacts wild populations. Captive breeding practices often include unnatural hybrids or inbreeding (e.g. white tigers, ligers) that results in compromised gene pools and frequent deformities, such as cleft palates, spinal scoliosis, cross-eyes, and mental retardation. (White tigers are not a rare species as is often claimed, but are the result of inbreeding to a recessive gene.)
    • Introduce a system of registration Mandated registration could assist in determining what impact US big cat ownership may have upon trafficking networks. It would also allow emergency personnel, law enforcement, and the public to know the number and location of dangerous animals in their area.
    • End Lion Farming for Meat It is currently legal in the US to raise lions for human consumption, but lions are not covered under the Humane Methods of Livestock Slaughter Act (7 U.S.C. 1902), which requires that animals be rendered unconscious or insensible to pain prior to slaughter.
    • End Canned Hunting of Big Cats in the US A canned hunt is a trophy hunt in which a person pays a large amount of money to shoot and kill an animal within a confined area, where the animal has no means of escape. Canned hunting is a billion dollar industry with more than 1,000 operations in 28 states, the majority being in Texas.
    • Protect Public Safety Big cats are dangerous; it is inappropriate and irresponsible to keep them as pets, or put them in the arms of an unwitting public.

Help captive big cats in the US ~ support the Big Cat Public Safety Act!

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