Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez (CA-47), along with Congressman Buck McKeon (CA-25) announced at Shambala Animal Preserve today new legislation that they recently introduced in the House to better regulate the ownership of big cats. Rep. Sanchez and Rep. McKeon were joined by the film star Tippi Hedren, who is President of Shambala Preserve.
The “Big Cats and Public Safety Protection” Act would prohibit private possession of big cats except at highly-qualified facilities, like accredited zoos, where they can be properly cared for and restrained. The bill would require any persons who currently possess big cats to register those animals with USDA in order to keep the cats they currently own. Additionally, the bill would also outlaw the breeding of any big cat except at accredited zoos and research and educational institutions.
An alarming number of wild cats have been bred and sold as domestic pets in the U.S. This trend threatens public safety and often results in the mistreatment of these animals. Just recently, the tragic events in Zanesville, Ohio, where 49 wild animals were killed after they were let loose on an unlicensed wild animal preserve, showcases the dangerous implications of this trend. Currently, only nine states have laws enforcing “no wild animals permitted,” and the remaining states have weak or no laws in existence.
This bi-partisan bill will ensure that lions, tigers and other dangerous big cats, do not threaten public safety, diminish global big cat conservation efforts, or end up living in horrible conditions where they can be subject to mistreatment and cruelty. This legislation is supported by Shambala Preserve, the ROAR Foundation, the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), Born Free USA, Humane Society of United States, the American Sanctuary Association (ASA), and Big Cat Rescue.