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The Big Cat Public Safety Act has passed the United States House of Representatives, and now it will head to the Senate floor. The bill will ban private possession and public contact and increase restrictions on the breeding, trade, and exploitation of big cats. Organizations like Animal Defenders International (ADI) and celebrities everywhere are applauding the bill passing the House.

Source: ifaw/Youtube

These big cats are often kept as prisoners for profit at roadside zoos, where they are exploited and forced into activities like cub petting. They’re frequently declawed and have their teeth dulled so that they can be forced into interactions with customers, even though declawing has been prohibited by the USDA since 2005. Adult big cats kept as pets are known to suffer psychologically as a result of being housed in small, confined areas. Cubs used for petting and photo ops are often taken from their mothers at an early age and also suffer psychologically as a result.

Big cat ownership came into the spotlight after Tiger King featuring Joe Exotic came on Netflix in 2020. This bill will focus on private ownership, trade, and breeding of some species. It is specifically aimed at backyard breeders, roadside zoos, cub petting, and photo operations.

Jan Creamer, President of ADI, said, “Animals are not objects of entertainment, and it is disgraceful to continue to allow them to be treated as such. A life of confinement and abuse is no life at all. It is time to pass the Big Cat Public Safety Act and put an end to the cub petting and backyard breeding of big cats in the US.”

Once cubs are older than three or four months, they are too large, and it becomes too dangerous for cub petting. Because of this, many breeders are constantly breeding so that they always have cubs for petting and photo ops. They are often sold to roadside zoos or as private pets when they are too big. According to ADI, others have been known to be trafficked or just disappear altogether. The United States does not track this, so there is no way to know how many cubs are bred, traded, die, or where they go once they are deemed useless.

Award-winning TV legend Bob Barker told ADI, “The abuse big cats suffer is indefensible. They are starved, mistreated, kept isolated in tiny cages, their paws mutilated, their bodies drugged, their lives miserable, and their deaths violent and ugly. It must stop. Please join Animal Defenders International in supporting the Big Cat Public Safety Act today.”

For years the government has failed to help big cats and enact legislation needed to stop the suffering of these animals. This bill is a step in the right direction, and we hope that it will become law. ADI has created a system to make it easier to contact senators to help make this law. Check out their website to get phone numbers, talking points, and email templates, and let’s get this passed in Senate!

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