President Biden Signs Big Cat Public Safety Act to End Abuses Seen in ‘Tiger King’ into Law
WASHINGTON, D.C., Dec. 21, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Animal Wellness Action, the Animal Wellness Foundation, the Center for a Humane Economy, and Big Cat Rescue applauded the signing of the bipartisan Big Cat Public Safety Act, H.R. 263, by President Joe Biden on Tuesday afternoon.
“Thank you to Representatives Quigley, Fitzpatrick, Blumenauer, Buchanan, Garcia, Waltz, McNerney, and Womack, Senators Blumenthal, Collins, Carper, and Burr, and many others for their leadership,” said The White House in a news release late Tuesday.
“We applaud President Biden for inking the much-needed Big Cat Public Safety Act into law,” said Marty Irby, executive director at Animal Wellness Action. “The measure will protect American families from dangerous tigers, lions, and other big cats, and eradicate the ridiculous practice of ‘cub petting’ that we saw in Tiger King from U.S. soil.”
“For me, this fight for the big cats was never personal,” said Carole Baskin, president and founder of Big Cat Rescue. “This was always about developing a national policy to shut down the trade in these animals as props in commercial cub handling operations and as pets in people’s backyards and basements.”
“The Congress recognizes that chaos and cruelty result when people breed big cats for use as pets or for commercial petting operations,” said Wayne Pacelle, president of the Center for a Humane Economy.
“Over four years of work have finally led to this moment. I am grateful to all those who have believed in the importance of this bill and who have been dedicated to seeing it become law.” said Rep. Mike Quigley, D-Ill. “This legislation will not only help end the cruel and inhumane cub petting industry, it will also make our communities safer.”
“I’m elated to see the U.S. Congress step up to help those of us in law enforcement prevent unnecessary risk to our lives by addressing this issue and passing the Big Cat Public Safety Act,” said Sheriff Matt Lutz who led the law enforcement efforts in the tragic 2011 Zanesville event.
“Texas law does not prohibit the private ownership of dangerous exotic animals, like tigers and lions, as pets,” said Shelby Bobosky, Texas Humane Legislation Network’s executive director. “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.”
The bill builds on the Captive Wildlife Safety Act, passed unanimously in 2003, which sought to ban the trade in big cats as pets. That original measure had a drafting flaw, and the Big Cat Public Safety Act seeks to correct that problem and to ban breeding big cats for the pet trade and for commercial cub petting.
The bill had been introduced long before the salacious reality television series “Tiger King,” but that blockbuster Netflix program put the issue of private ownership of tigers and lions on the American radar screen. NBC’s streaming platform, Peacock TV, also featured the bill in its series “Joe vs. Carole,” released in March.
Down from nearly 60 cub-petting operations just 10 or 15 years ago, there are now maybe two or three commercial such outfits in the United States. Nearly all cub-petters featured in “Tiger King” are incarcerated, have had their animals seized, or are facing prosecution.
· Joe Exotic is serving 21 years in federal prison for 17 wildlife-related charges as well as murder-for-hire charges
· Jeff Lowe, who took charge of Joe Exotic’s GW Zoo and intended to open a cub-petting operation in far eastern Oklahoma, had his operation raided by federal authorities, who brought civil charges against him. Lowe’s animals have been confiscated and placed at sanctuaries.
· Tim Stark, another prominent Tiger King “star,” had his animals confiscated by the State of Indiana for multiple animal-related and nonprofit-operation violations. He fled the state after a criminal charge was filed and was arrested in New York.
· Bhagavan “Doc” Antle was arrested on charges of money laundering. He’s also facing charges by the State of Virginia with 15 counts of wildlife trafficking and animal cruelty.
The tigers and lions bred for the pet trade or roadside attractions never lead good lives. They typically live in substandard conditions, and in almost every case, their lives end tragically. We reduce these remarkable beasts to shadows of themselves in dilapidated roadside menageries or in backyards or basements. The people who acquire the animals on impulse or for profit almost always give them up because they cannot be safely managed by individuals without sufficient resources or professional staff.
The Big Cat Public Safety Act is backed by the National Sheriffs’ Association, state sheriffs’ associations throughout the nation, the Fraternal Order of Police, the National Animal Care and Control Association, and countless other agencies and organizations.
Animal Wellness Action is a Washington, D.C.-based 501(c)(4) organization with a mission of helping animals by promoting legal standards forbidding cruelty. We champion causes that alleviate the suffering of companion animals, farm animals, and wildlife. We advocate for policies to stop dogfighting and cockfighting and other forms of malicious cruelty and to confront factory farming and other systemic forms of animal exploitation. To prevent cruelty, we promote enacting good public policies, and we work to enforce those policies. To enact good laws, we must elect good lawmakers, and that’s why we remind voters which candidates care about our issues and which ones don’t. We believe helping animals helps us all.
Marty Irby Animal Wellness Action 202-821-5686 firstname.lastname@example.org