WASHINGTON (WPRI) — A federal bill cosponsored by Sen. Jack Reed is headed to the president’s desk.
The Big Cat Public Safety Act aims to prohibit people from irresponsibly keeping lions, tigers, leopards, and other exotic big cat species as pets to protect people and prevent animal cruelty, Reed’s office said. It would also allow the government to crack down on unscrupulous breeders.
There have been nearly 800 incidents in the U.S. involving captive exotic cats since 1990, according to Big Cat Rescue. Those have resulted in 25 human deaths, 151 big cat deaths, 274 maulings, 298 escapes, and 135 confiscations.
“Big cats are predators, not pets,” Reed said. “It shouldn’t be as easy to acquire a tiger cub as it is to have a cat or a dog. Putting federal standards in place ensures abusive breeders can’t just cross state lines to exploit loopholes in the exotic animal trade.”
The act has been endorsed by a wide variety of animal welfare organizations, such as the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the Humane Society, and the Association of Zoos & Aquariums.