What is the Big Cat Public Safety Act

The Big Cat Public Safety Act for the 117th US Congress Session (2021-2023) has been reintroduced to the House of Representatives as H.R. 263 and has yet to be reintroduced to the Senate. It has been assigned to the Natural Resource Committee in the House.

The Big Cat Public Safety Act

Currently, regulation of private ownership and handling of big cats are made by each state.

  • 23 states have a complete ban on private ownership.
  • 13 states have a partial ban on private ownership.
  • 10 states only require licenses to own dangerous exotic animals.
  • 4 states have NO regulations on private ownership.

The proposed federal bill, Big Cat Public Safety Act, will make it illegal to buy, sell, trade, transport across state lines without permits, privately own, or allow the public to have hands-on interaction with prohibited types of big cats.

Prohibited Wildlife Species Listed For The Big Cat Public Safety Act:

  • Lion (Panthera leo)
  • Tiger (Panthera tigris)
  • Leopard (Panthera pardus)
  • Snow Leopard (Uncia uncia)
  • Jaguar (Panthera onca)
  • Cougar (Puma concolor)
  • All subspecies of the above-listed species (including mixed subspecies)
  • Or any hybrid of prohibited species




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Expanded Information


There will be exceptions to the Big Cat Public Safety Act. Qualified exemptions will be required to have a Class C license from the Department of Agriculture and be a qualifying zoo, sanctuary, state college, university, agency, or State-licensed veterinarian.

The Big Cat Public Safety Act  will define give guidelines for approved facilities –

  • A facility that is exempt from taxation under 501(a) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 and described in sections 501(c)(3) and 170(b)(1)(A)(vi) of such Code.
  • Does not breed the prohibited wildlife species unless they are part of a peer-reviewed species survival plan.
  • Does not trade restricted species.
  • Does not allow direct contact between the public and prohibited wildlife species.
  • Does not allow the transport and display of prohibited wildlife species off-site.


Violations of the Big Cat Public Safety Act are clearly defined in the bill. Individuals or entities that knowingly violate the act will:

  • Be fined $20,000 and/or get a maximum of 5 years in jail.
  • Each animal qualifies as a single violation. If multiple animals are involved, each animal will count as a separate offense.


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Click Here To Email Your Representative And Ask Them To Support The Big Cat Public Safety Act