Did you know that there are at least 10,000 big cats kept in private hands in the U.S., but that no one knows exactly how many or where?
It’s a dangerous situation – for people and animals – when tigers, lions and other big cats are kept as backyard pets or in roadside zoos. When things go wrong, as they too often do, police officers, veterinarians, firefighters, EMTs and other first responders are forced to make life-or-death decisions.
We will never forget the Zanesville, Ohio tragedy, when a backyard exotic animal owner released 38 big cats and 18 other dangerous animals and then took his own life. To protect the surrounding community, law enforcement had no choice but to kill most of the animals. This type of situation happens time and time again.
U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn) has introduced the Big Cats and Public Safety Protection Act (S.1381). Spearheaded by the International Fund for Animal Welfare, the bill aims at banning private possession and breeding of tigers, lions, and other captive big cats in the United States, while requiring current “owners” to register their big cats. The identical House version of the bill was introduced in May by U.S. Representatives Buck McKeon (R-CA) and Loretta Sanchez (D-CA).
First responders have to risk their lives when a person is killed or mauled by a big cat, or after a big cat escapes.
A few months ago, a young woman was attacked by an adult lion while she was cleaning his enclosure. Tragically, the young woman died, and the lion had to be killed by authorities.
The incident took place at a facility that breeds and frequently transports its big cats for public display.
Since 1997, incidents involving the animals have resulted in 22 human deaths including five children; and over 200 people have been mauled or injured.
And yet private ownership of big cats remains legal in many states.
Things need to change. You can help us and IFAW make it happen. Ask your U.S. senator to co-sponsor the Big Cats and Public Safety Protection Act today.
Thank you! The cats depend on it.