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Quigley Reintroduces Legislation to End Private Ownership of Big Cats

Jan 21, 2021
Press Release

U.S. Representatives Mike Quigley (IL-05) and Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01) reintroduced the Big Cat Public Safety Act to prohibit the private ownership of big cats like tigers, lions, leopards, and pumas and end the abusive cub petting industry.

“Animals like tigers, lions, leopards, and pumas simply do not belong in private ownership. Not only does it place the public, including law enforcement and first responders, in grave danger – it also often results in these animals living in miserable conditions,” said Quigley. “After passing the House of Representatives last year with strong bipartisan support, I look forward to the Big Cat Public Safety Act advancing quickly and hopefully being signed into law this year. It’s long past time that we act to protect the public and ensure big cats are treated humanely.”

“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,” said Fitzpatrick. “Our Big Cat Public Safety Act would prohibit the unlicensed, private possession of big cats and restricts direct contact between the public and big cats. I am proud to reintroduce this bipartisan bill with Congressman Quigley, and I look forward to seeing it pass the House again.”

Late in 2020, Quigley and Fitzpatrick’s Big Cat Public Safety Act passed the House of Representatives, but the bill did not receive a vote in the Senate. If passed, the legislation would bar private ownership of big cats, prohibit exhibitors from allowing public contact with cubs.

“We’ve closely investigated Joe Exotic and other big cat exploiters and documented the flagrant abuse and serious public safety hazards that characterize their cynical and tawdry operations. Not only are paying customers in danger interacting with wild animals, they are contributing to a cruel and violent industry,” said Kitty Block, President and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States. “When the cubs used for petting grow too large, they are caged, sold to the pet trade or killed. Congress must stop this insanity and pass the Big Cat Public Safety Act.”

“Whether it’s Joe Exotic, Doc Antle, or Joe Blow, it’s madness for private individuals to keep big cats captive for pleasure or profit. Americans cannot condone taking infant cubs from their mothers for selfie-taking operations, nor the safety threat that these animals pose at such proximity to people,” said Sara Amundson, President of the Humane Society Legislative Fund. “After a strong House passage last year, the Big Cat Public Safety Act is ready for movement in the new Congress.”

“Tigers and lions belong in the wild and not languishing at a roadside zoo or penned up in someone’s backyard or basement,” said Wayne Pacelle, president of Animal Wellness Action. “We are so grateful to Rep. Fitzpatrick for leading the way to protect these magnificent creatures and disallowing dangerous interactions with them that put law enforcement and our communities at risk.”

Last year, public awareness of the plight of big cats kept in private ownership increased dramatically after the release of the Netflix series Tiger King. The series revealed the miserable conditions thousands of tigers, lions, leopards, and pumas are kept in by irresponsible owners. These conditions pose a grave risk not only to the animals themselves but to the first responders who too often must confront these animals and to the public at large.