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A bi-partisan issue we can all support – Big Cat Public Safety Act



The #1 thing you can do to help

2021 Big Cat Public Safety Act – UPDATE

The Big Cat Public Safety Act has been reintroduced as H.R. 263 by Reps. Michael Quigley, D-Ill., and Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Penn. We need your help once again to pass this important bill – and take it across the finish line!

Please ask your U.S. Representative to co-sponsor the Big Cat Public Safety Act, H.R. 263. Always include the bill number in your communications. (If you are a constituent of Rep. Tom McClintock of California, please see note below.)

  1. Message. Locate your U.S. Representative here. Click on the Representative’s link which will take you to their home page. Locate “Contact” on the menu and send your message via the online form provided there.

Sample message: I am a constituent who very strongly supports the Big Cat Public Safety Act, H.R. 263, to end the exploitation and suffering of captive big cats in our country and protect the public. I urge you to co-sponsor this important bill. (See informational points below that you can add to your message.)

If your Congressperson is one of the sponsors of the bill, please write and thank them.

  1. Call your Representative’s Washington, DC, office. Simply say that you are a constituent who is very concerned about the welfare of captive big cats and public safety. Urge the Representative to co-sponsor the Big Cat Public Safety Act, H.R. 263.
  1. Share. Use social media to encourage your friends, family and colleagues to take action. You can use the share links at the bottom of this page to share this alert.

Informational points on the Big Cat Public Safety Act, H.R. 263:

  • Prohibits the possession of lions, tigers, leopards, cheetahs, jaguars, cougars, or any hybrid of these species by private individuals.
  • Zoos, universities, and bona fide sanctuaries are exempt from the prohibition.
  • Current captive big cat owners are grandfathered in, but they must register their animals. They cannot breed or acquire more big cats.
  • Restricts direct contact between the public and big cats of any age.

Why this bill is needed:

  • Thousands of big cats are thought to be in private hands, posing a danger to the public and to first responders when these animals escape or attack.
  • Since 1990, there have been nearly 380 dangerous incidents involving captive big cats in 46 states and the District of Columbia, with 20 adults and five children killed and many more injured.
  • Cub petting operations continuously breed big cats so they can sell photo and handling sessions with young cubs to the public. Cubs are often subjected to rough handling, denied sleep, and abused by their handlers.
  • Cubs are separated from their mothers shortly after birth. When they get too big to handle and are no longer profitable, they may be funneled into the exotic pet trade, sold to other disreputable exhibitors, or may end up in the illegal trade in wildlife parts.
  • Cub petting facilities fuel the demand for “pet” big cats.

Note to constituents of Rep. Tom McClintock: The representative has introduced his own bill on this issue. It is a half-measure that would allow cruel cub petting operations to continue, along with the unchecked breeding necessary to make these places profitable. We still urge you to contact Rep. McClintock, stating that you strongly support H.R. 263 only. It is important that he knows where his constituents stand on this issue.

Action alert courtesy of PAWS

2019 Big Cat Public Safety Act – UPDATE 

This important amendment was reintroduced February 26, 2019


H.R.1380 — 116th Congress (2019-2020) – To amend the Lacey Act Amendments of 1981 to clarify provisions enacted by the Captive Wildlife Safety Act, to further the conservation of certain wildlife species, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep. Quigley, Mike [D-IL-5]               Co-sponsors: (53)

Committees: House – Natural Resources

Latest Action: House – 02/26/2019 Referred to the House Committee on Natural Resources. (All Actions)


S.2561 — 116th Congress (2019-2020)Big Cat Public Safety Act

Sponsor: Sen. Blumenthal, Richard [D-CT] (Introduced 09/26/2019)         Cosponsors: (17)

Committees: Senate – Environment and Public Works

Latest Action: Senate – 09/26/2019 Read twice and referred to the Committee on Environment and Public Works. (All Actions)


It’s hard to believe states require dog licenses but, when it comes to dangerous exotic animals – well that’s a whole other story! Here are the shocking facts, according to HSUS:
  • 5 states have absolutely no laws addressing the private ownership of big cats – Wisconsin, North and South Carolina, Nevada and Alabama. BREAKING NEWS: 5-2017 South Carolina just passed a ban!
  • 11 states don’t 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

Amazingly, there are absolutely NO federal laws regulating the private ownership of big cats and other dangerous exotic animals. Instead, it’s up to state and local laws to ensure your neighbor down the street doesn’t decide to go out and buy a cute tiger cub and cage it in their backyard.

Change is happening

Big Cat Public Safety Act  If this act passes, it would finally regulate big cat private ownership at the federal level. We’d no longer be dependent on a patchwork of largely ineffective local and state laws to protect the public against escapes, maulings, and deaths.

This act places stricter regulations on facilities that own big cats. There are an estimated 5,000 – 7,000 tigers living in captivity today (never mind all the other species of exotic cats), and only about 400 of those tigers live in zoos. That means thousands of tigers are living in roadside attractions, backyard cages, breeding compounds, neighborhoods, etc. Kind of scary, isn’t it?!


The Big Cat Public Safety Act will also regulate the breeding of big cats in captivity. It requires facilities that breed to be part of an approved conservation population management plan. Breeding big cats for lives in cages, just to bring in profits by exhibiting them, does absolutely nothing to conserve species in the wild.

Who would oppose this?

Not surprisingly, those who breed for profit are opposing this bill. They claim the government is trying to take away their beloved pets. That’s not the case at all!

This act actually allows them to keep their current exotic pets, as long as they’re registered with the USFWS within 180 days. But, they can no longer breed, acquire, sell, or allow public contact with their exotic animals. In reality, the reason they’re objecting to this is it may take away their ability to breed and exhibit for profit.

Another purpose of this act would be to stop people from acquiring new big cats. The goal is, in 20 years, exotic pet ownership will no longer be a dangerous public safety issue to deal with.

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