12/21/22 Update: President Biden has signed the Big Cat Public Safety Act into law.
The US Senate has passed the Big Cat Public Safety Act by unanimous consent and it’s now headed to President Joe Biden for his signature. Biden is expected to sign the bill into law after his administration released the following statement regarding the bill back in July: “The Administration supports H.R. 263, the Big Cat Public Safety Act, which would build on existing laws that protect big cats like tigers, cheetahs, jaguars, and other wild animals living in captivity in the United States.”
The passing of this legislation would end the pay-for-play, exploitative cub-petting industry, which is the primary driver behind the overbreeding of exotic cats. Public interaction with cubs is prohibited under the bill.
According to a release from Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge, the cub-petting industry has generated a high demand for cubs. Cubs can only be used for a very short period before aging out of the industry at three months, at which time they are sold into private ownership, become part of the breeding mill or are killed. In addition to an overbreeding problem, the cubs themselves suffer from a lack of proper nutrition leading to lifelong health issues.
The Big Cat Public Safety Act would prohibit private individuals from owning big cats as pets. Current big cat owners will be grandfathered in but will be required to register their animals, agree to not breed, acquire more or sell prohibited species and not allow direct contact with the public. This will phase out private ownership eventually.
“For the past decade, we have been trying to get legislation passed to save the big cats in our great nation,” Scott Smith, Vice President of Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge said. “We celebrate this victory with much gratitude to our supporters for their diligence in contacting their representatives and senators. The passage of the Big Cat Public Safety Act is a win for all big cats.”