Biden signs Big Cat Public Safety Act into law; ending breeding, sale and possession of certain big cats
WASHINGTON (KWTX) - President Joe Biden on Dec. 20 signed H.R. 263, the Big Cat Public Safety Act, into law, limiting the breeding and possession of certain big cats.
The bill was championed by Carole and Howard Baskin of Big Cat Rescue, a shelter that gained national notoriety thanks to Netflix’s Tiger King docuseries.
PETA also backed the bill and claims separating big-cat cubs from their mothers prematurely, and allowing the public to pet them, violates the federal Endangered Species Act.
The new law not only ends cub petting operations, it amends current federal law to prohibit the acquisition, possession, sale, breeding and transportation of big cats in Texas and across the country.
Sanctuaries, accredited zoos, and research facilities would reportedly be exempt from the new law.
“With proper enforcement, the new law will serve as the final nail in the coffin for businesses exploiting sensitive big-cat cubs for profit,” PETA said.
“Texas law does not prohibit the private ownership of dangerous exotic animals, like tigers and lions, as pets,” said Shelby Bobosky, the executive director of The Texas Humane Legislation Network (THLN), “As a result, big cats suffer terribly and risk public safety.”
“Just this year, Dallas Police found and seized a tiger cub caged in a Dallas backyard while serving a warrant. The animal was kept only two blocks from an elementary school and seized days before students returned to the classroom,” Bobosky further said.
According to THLN, in the first 90 days of 2021 alone, four privately-owned big cats escaped enclosures and roamed loose in Texas cities.
During Hurricane Harvey, THLN reports, there were reports of wild animals wandering neighborhoods as their enclosures had been destroyed and local law enforcement did not have the tools to tranquilize and capture them humanely.
“First responders should not have to apprehend 500-pound predatory big cats,” said Bobosky. “Passing the Big Cat Public Safety Act means less risk to our first responders and safer communities for all of us.”
THLN said current owners of big cats will be grandfathered in as long as they register their animals with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service so that first responders will know where they are located and who owns them.
Texas is the number one state for private ownership of big cats, THLN said.
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