On 29th July 2022, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Big Cat Public Safety Act (H.R. 263), which would prohibit keeping tigers, lions and other big cat species as “pets”, and ban direct public contact like cub petting. Sponsored and championed by Rep. Michael Quigley, D-Ill., and Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Pa, the bill, voted by 278 representatives to 134, will now move to the Senate. If eventually passed there, it will become unlawful (unless in exempted cases such as sanctuaries or veterinarians) for any person to import, export, transport, sell, receive, acquire, or purchase in interstate or foreign commerce, or in a manner substantially affecting interstate or foreign commerce, or breed or possess, any prohibited wildlife species (which include big cats).
Since 1992, there have been at least 100 dangerous and cruel incidents involving big cats kept as pets or in private menageries. Sara Amundson, president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund, said, “House passage of the Big Cat Public Safety Act, H.R. 263, is a giant step toward addressing a problem that has been festering for years — America’s surplus of captive tigers and other big cats. It’s the product of people like those in the series ‘Tiger King,’ who breed big cats to make money, not to provide any conservation value. Although most of the scofflaw breeders in ‘Tiger King’ have been held to account, as long as cub petting remains legal, nothing will prevent Joe Exotic wannabes from relentlessly exploiting, mistreating and dumping big cat cubs. With well over half of the House cosponsoring this bill, Congress should pass it without delay.” Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Pa., said, “As a member of the bipartisan Congressional Animal Protection Caucus, I am committed to ensuring our government is doing its part to promote animal welfare. For too long, big cats have been mistreated, exploited, and abused in private roadside zoos. Our Big Cat Public Safety Act will prohibit the unlicensed, private possession of big cats and restrict their direct contact with the public, and I am proud to again join Congressman Quigley in championing this bipartisan bill.”