Breaking! Bill To End Cub-Petting Exhibitions & Protect Big Cats From Becoming “Pets” Reintroduced In The U.S.

U.S. Representative Mike Quigley, who serves as a member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee of the Interior, and a member of the Animal Protection Caucus, announced yesterday that he joined Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick in reintroducing the bipartisan Big Cat Public Safety Act.

The bill prohibits the ownership of big cats and makes it illegal for exhibitors to allow public contact with cubs.

“From irresponsible breeding to inhumane living conditions and public exploitation, the mistreatment of big cats comes in a variety of forms,” Rep. Quigley said in a statement. “By introducing the Big Cat Public Safety Act, we are working to address a serious issue that causes immeasurable animal suffering and introduces inexcusable threats to human safety. State laws regarding private ownership of big cats are inconsistent or nonexistent, which is why a uniform federal law is necessary to end this dangerous industry once and for all.”

Across the country, thousands of big cats like tigers, lions, leopards, and pumas are kept in miserable, insecure, and unsafe conditions by irresponsible owners. The Big Cat Public Safety Act works to address this issue by barring the private ownership of these animals and prohibits exhibitors from allowing public contact with cubs, which aims to help correct the mistreatment of wild animals and limit the danger posed to members of the public, including law enforcement officers who respond to escapes and attacks.

“As a member of the Congressional Animal Protection Caucus, I’m committed to ensuring our government is doing its part to promote animal welfare,” said Rep. Fitzpatrick. “I’m proud to stand with Rep. Quigley to introduce legislation which will protect big cat wildlife species.”

The bill has a list of over fifty bipartisan cosponsors, including Reps. Rooney (FL-17) and Blumenauer (OR-03).

“There is a big cat crisis in the United States,” said Cathy Liss, President of Animal Welfare Institute (AWI). “There are thousands in captivity, and we don’t even know where they are. Private individuals keep big cats as ‘pets,’ where they languish in grossly inadequate conditions and pose a severe risk to the surrounding community, including law enforcement. The Big Cat Public Safety Act is a smart solution to a dangerous and cruel situation.”

As noted by AWI, surplus tigers, discarded by cub-petting operations, can also fuel the illegal market for animal parts used in traditional Asian medicine. The rampant breeding of tigers in this country, the lack of a system for tracking them nationwide, and the distorted belief that tigers are often worth more dead than alive means there are ample opportunities for these animals to enter the black market.

Cub-petting exhibitions also damage the credibility and influence of the United States in working with other nations on international tiger conservation efforts.

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