Senate Takes Action to Protect Big Cats from Cruelty and Abuse

Animal advocates are applauding Senator Richard Blumenthal for reintroducing legislation that would protect big cats by making it illegal to keep them as pets in the U.S.

It’s a tragedy that thousands of big cats, including lions, tigers and leopards are being kept by private owners who can never truly meet their needs, even with the best of intentions. While some states have laws banning the private possession of big cats, others have weak or no laws in place at all, leaving big cats to suffer in any number of situations that can range from simply not meeting their needs to being downright abusive.

Now animal advocates and organizations including the Animal Welfare Institute, Big Cat Rescue, Born Free USA, the International Fund for Animal Welfare, The Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society Legislative Fund are applauding members of Congress for taking action that could change things for big cats.

Senator Richard Blumenthal has reintroduced the Big Cat Public Safety Act in the Senate, which would strengthen existing federal legislation by closing loopholes to prohibit both private ownership and breeding of big cats in the U.S., with exemptions for sanctuaries and exhibitors that are licensed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“Across the country, thousands of big cats are kept in miserable and unsecure conditions by irresponsible owners. It’s a problem that causes immeasurable animal suffering and appalling threats to human safety. The solution is simple. Big cats should not continue to end up in facilities or with individuals who are unsuited to handle them. The Big Cat Public Safety Act is a smart solution to a dangerous and cruel situation,” said Kate Dylewsky, senior policy advisor at the Animal Welfare Institute.

While the situations they may be kept in vary, none are appropriate for these apex predators and keeping them confined is not just harming them, but is also putting communities and first responders at risk.

As the organizations supporting this legislation point out in a joint statement, there are no shortage of reasons to pass this bill, and a number of recent incidents highlight how important it is. From a tiger appearing at a high school prom to others being seen on the loose, while there have also been more than 700 dangerous incidents involving tigers, lions and cougars in the U.S., including hundreds of human injuries, maulings and deaths.

But those aren’t the only issues. There’s also the matter of facilities that exploit cubs to draw in visitors. These facilities have continued to shine in the spotlight for how inherently cruel they are. Not only do they allow overhandling of cubs by the public, and separate them from their mothers too soon, they continue to support an endless cycle of breeding to keep cubs accessible, which just ends up producing more big cats than anyone wants.

Once those adorable cubs outgrow their cuteness, and reality sets in that these are wild, and potentially dangerous animals that are difficult to manage and care for, they get dumped. The lucky ones may find their ways to sanctuaries, but that only overburdens the few organizations that can take them in, and many others won’t share that future.

“Relying on accredited sanctuaries to take in unwanted and usually neglected big cats is not a viable solution to the big cat crisis in this country,” said Carole Baskin, founder and CEO of Big Cat Rescue. “When big cats are wrongly kept as pets or cruelly exploited in entertainment businesses, they often endure tremendous suffering for years in deplorable conditions with inadequate nutrition and little, if any, veterinary care. Then when owners no longer want the cats or they are seized by authorities, the substantial financial burden to house, feed and provide long-term vet care for these big cats falls upon sanctuaries. It costs Big Cat Rescue $10,000 per year for food and vet care for one tiger. The Big Cat Public Safety Act will finally address the inhumane treatment of the vast majority of big cats in America.”

This legislation has been on the table before, but it’s failed to pass. While it now has support from members of both the House and Senate, our representatives need to hear that this issue is one they need to act on now.


You can help by signing and sharing the petition urging Congress to protect both us and big cats by passing the Big Cat Public Safety Act.

Photo credit: Thinkstock


Marie W
Marie W3 months ago

Thanks for sharing

Carole R
Carole R5 months ago

This is very good news. I absolutely love the big cats .... AND the little ones! :0)

michela c
michela c5 months ago

Let them be finally Free!

Ann B
Ann B5 months ago

they were BORN FREE and should stay that way--the only one that needs to be in a cage is TRUMP--and his killers friends

hELEN hEARFIELD5 months ago


Renata B
Renata B5 months ago

Macho mentality, big head and very little between the legs. How much longer do these poor animals have to wait. And let us not forget Toni the tiger. He died in his prison.

Veronica B
Veronica B9 months ago

Just do it!!! Petition Signed.

Debra Tate
Debra Tate9 months ago

Thank you! Signed.

Berenice Guedes de Sá

What great news!! Thanks for sharing and caring!! I hope this continues for good!!

Sheila Miller
Sheila Miller9 months ago

Such great news! I hope the senate continues to fight for the welfare and respect of animals. Thank you for this article.