April 11, 2017
Did you know that your neighbor might have an exotic big cat in their backyard? No, we aren’t kidding, there is a chance that the sweet older lady living a block from your child’s school might be harboring a dangerous exotic animal in her house or backyard.
Currently, there are no federal laws regulating the private ownership of big cats and other dangerous exotic animals. Only state and local laws prevent your neighbors from keeping these dangerous animals as pets. For years many animal groups and accredited sanctuaries have been working hard to get a federal law passed to regulate big cat private ownership. On March 30, 2017, House Representative Jeff Denham, referred H.R. 1818 to the 115th Congress to the House Committee on Natural Resources1.
There are an estimated 5,000 – 7,000 tigers living in captivity today2, with only about 400 of those living in Zoos. That number does not include lions, leopards, jaguars, cheetahs, cougars, big cat hybrids, and other dangerous exotic animals. These animals could kill or dismember a person with a swipe of their paw or bite from their powerful jaw. Nature made these animals strong enough to kill large prey and even though they were raised around humans does not negate their powerful biology and natural instincts to survive. Over the years, hundreds of big cats have escaped and/or seriously injured and killed individuals and pets 3,4. Including the worst incident to date where a man released 51 dangerous exotic animals in Zanesville, Ohio in October of 20115.
6According to the Humane Society there are 5 states in the USA that have NO laws about the private ownership of big cats, Alabama, Nevada, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Wisconsin. 11 states do not ban dangerous wild animals as pets but do require permits for some species. 13 states ban some species of dangerous wild animals as pets but allow others. 21 states ban all dangerous wild animals as pets.
H.R. 1818 is also known as the Big Cat Public Safety Act, if passed would regulate big cat private ownership at a federal level. The bill will set forth stricter regulations on facilities that own big cats. The Big Cat Public Safety Act would also regulate the breeding of big cats in captivity by requiring any facilities that breed to be part of an approved conservation population management plan.
A lot of individuals and groups who oppose the Big Cat Public Safety Act argue that we are taking away their pets, this is NOT true. The Big Cat Public Safety Act allows people to keep their current exotic pets as long as they are all registered with the United States Fish and Wildlife Service within 180 days, and that they do not breed, acquire, sell, or allow public contact with their exotic animals1. The idea is that by stopping people from acquiring new big cats from this point forward that in 20 years, exotic pet ownership will no longer be an issue.
Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge’s mission is to provide lifetime refuge for abandoned, abused, and neglected “Big Cats” with emphasis on Tigers, Lions, Leopards, and Cougars. Our stance is that big cats are not pets, nor are they props, and deserve to be treated like the wild animals that they are. Although we love what we do, we feel it is better to prevent the abandonment, abuse, and neglect of big cats at the source, owners, instead of dealing with the aftermath.
Turpentine Creek supports H.R. 1818 – The Big Cat Public Safety Act and encourages our supporters to reach out to their local, state, and federal representatives to let them know that you support H.R. 1818 – The Big Cat Public Safety Act and believe that they should as well.
You can follow the progress of H.R. 1818 The Big Cat Public Safety Act on this website1. Get notifications about the advancement of the bill and who has cosponsored it.
U.S. Supporters ONLY.
If you call, please say something like:
“____ is my representative, and I want to urge them to cosponsor and support The Big Cat Public Safety Act, which is bill number H.R. 1818.”
If you email, tweet, or Facebook message your representative, please write something along the lines of:
My name is _______ and I live in your district. I support bill number H.R. 1818 – The Big Cat Public Safety Act. I urge you to cosponsor and support this bill.
Thank you, _____________