What I’m telling you is a happy ending story for thousands of big cats forced to live in captivity for profit and human business. The “Big Cat Public Safety Act” has finally been approved and is now on the desk of US President Biden. A huge success for the welfare and conservation of big cats in the USA. A big step forward for animal welfare, in the United States and around the world.But what is it about? You know the documentary “Tiger King”, in which Joe Exotic held hundreds of tigers and other wild animals to make them interact with people? Unfortunately it’s not just a movie.
This is what happened every day in the United States where big cats were kept as pets at home, like kittens, or worse, marketed as puppies to attract tourists, as adults to end up in tiny cages on the side of the road and then sold at the traditional medicine, for their bones.
Sara Amundson, president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund, said, “Passing the Big Cat Public Safety Act addresses reckless cruelty that has been deteriorating for years.The United States is home to thousands of captive tigers and little is known about these animals, meaning they could easily slip under radar and end up on the black market due to lack of available information.”
For example, we are talking about India, Elsa and Loki, former tame tigers kept as pets, who fortunately have now been recovered and live at the Black Beauty Ranch, a Texas sanctuary managed by the Humane Society. Loki arrived at the sanctuary in February 2019 after being found in an abandoned Houston home where he lived in a cage so small he could barely move. In 2021, the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office seized Elsa after she answered a call about a crying animal and found the six-month-old tiger outdoors in freezing temperatures and wearing a harness. Just a few months later, authorities rescued India after a viral video showed him wandering the streets of a Houston neighborhood.
These are just three of the thousands of stories we could tell, of all those tigers, lions, cheetahs, jaguars and leopards that were held for selfishness and used for business, like puppets to be exhibited.
Finally now the new Big Cat Public Safety Act prohibits keeping big cats (and hybrids!) as pets and bans public contact for these species, including paid interactive experiences such as petting the kittens (taken from their mothers at the birth to be imprinted on the human being)
The World Wildlife Fund (WWF International) released the following statement from Leigh Henry, director of wildlife policy: “By passing the Big Cat Public Safety Act, Congress has sent a global message that the United States stands firmly against wildlife crime and are on the side of tiger conservation. Once signed, this legislation will provide stringent protections and oversight for captive tigers and other big cats, as well as the communities where they are kept.”
“For too long tiger cubs have been exploited by ‘pay to play’ establishments and the likes of Joe Exotic and Doc Antle profit by charging people for photos of their children cuddling these potentially dangerous wild animals,” he said. Sara Amundson of HS.
In fact, the question of domesticated big cats is not only about ethics and animal welfare, but also about public safety.Suffice it to say that in the USA alone, since 1990 there have been more than 400 accidents involving large cats in captivity.The enactment of the bill therefore stops not only what used to be an endless cycle of animal exploitation and abuse, but also the dangerous risk for people of being attacked by a dangerous animal.
In short, this is a great achievement for animal welfare and we must say thanks to the people and associations who have fought for years to reach this goal, which we hope will open the door to similar changes all over the world, in the name of respect , animal welfare and ethics.
So thanks to the Humane society, Big Cat rescue, Animal wellness action and foundation, the NatGeo investigations by Steve Winter and Sharon Guynup and all the activists involved who worked to achieve this splendid result. There is still hope, to make the world understand that animals are neither our clowns nor our cuddly toys.