It is estimated that there are 10,000 to 20,000 big cats currently held in private ownership in the U.S., although the exact number remains a mystery. Since 1990, U.S. incidents involving captive big cats—including tigers, lions, cougars, leopards, jaguars, cheetahs and lion/tiger hybrids—have resulted in the deaths of 21 humans, 247 maulings, 259 escapes, 143 big cats deaths and 132 confiscations.
TAKE ACTION NOW! Help put an end to the abuse of big cats and help ensure the safety of the public .... This is the most important bill to ever be introduced to protect big cats. Please click the link and contact your state representatives letting them know that you support H.R.4122 - bigcatrescue.org/2012/big-cats-and-public-safety-protection-hr-4122
Big Cats and Public Safety Protection Act HR 4122
On February 29, 2012, Rep. Buck McKeon (R-CA) and Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-CA) introduced H.R. 4122, to prohibit the private possession and breeding of big cats. The bill will insure that lions, tigers and other dangerous big cats -- which are kept as pets and exploited in roadside zoos and traveling exhibits -- do not threaten public safety, diminish the global big cat conservation efforts, or end up living in deplorable conditions where they can be subject to mistreatment and cruelty. Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) announced on the same day plans to introduce a companion bill in the Senate within the next few weeks.
The debate over private ownership of big cats garnered national attention last October when the owner of a backyard menagerie in Zanesville, Ohio, opened the cages of his tigers, leopards, lions, wolves, bears and monkeys before committing suicide. Local police, who were neither trained nor properly equipped to deal with a situation of that magnitude, were forced to shoot and kill nearly 50 animals—38 of them big cats—before they could enter populated areas.
The bill would make it illegal to possess any big cat except at accredited zoos and wildlife sanctuaries where they can be properly cared for and sheltered, and would only allow breeding at accredited zoos, along with some research or educational institutions. Current owners would be allowed to keep the cats they currently have provided they register their cats with USDA to keep them from being slaughtered to sell their parts (see below), but they would not be allowed to acquire or breed more. Violators of the law could have their animals confiscated along with any vehicles or equipment used to aid in their activity, and could face stiff penalties including fines up to $20,000 and up to five years in jail.
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