Silver Spring, Maryland – While big cats continue to be exploited at substandard facilities, tonight, the U.S. House of Representatives took an important step to improve the welfare of these animals and protect the public. By a bipartisan vote of 272 to 114, the House passed the “Big Cat Public Safety Act,” which seeks to limit who can possess lions, tigers, and other big cats in the United States. The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) has worked on versions of the “Big Cat Public Safety Act” for nearly a decade and strongly backed its passage.
“When people visit an AZA-accredited facility and see lions, tigers, and cheetahs, they know those animals are receiving the best care possible. The same cannot be said for substandard facilities who use lion and tiger cubs as props for their business,” said Dan Ashe, President and CEO of AZA. “As the cats grow, these facilities are typically ill-equipped to handle the animals, resulting in overcrowded spaces or worse, animals killed to support the illegal trade in their body parts. I commend Reps. Quigley and Fitzpatrick for sponsoring the legislation, and I am hopeful the U.S. Senate will now act swiftly and pass this much-needed legislation.”
The “Big Cat Public Safety Act” will strengthen federal law by prohibiting possession of tigers, lions, and other big cat species except by qualified entities, which includes AZA-accredited facilities. It also would effectively end the unsafe and unethical use of big cats and their cubs for commercial photo-ops, petting, and similar activities that undermine animal care and welfare, encourage exploitation, and incentivize unscientific breeding for strictly commercial reasons.
AZA-accredited facilities support conservation efforts around the globe, including contributing over $5.2 million to big cat conservation field projects in 2019. Several big cats covered under the legislation – the African lion, cheetah, and jaguar – are part of the AZA SAFE: Saving Animals From Extinction program. You can learn more about AZA members’ efforts to save big cats through the SAFE program here: http://www.aza.org/aza-safe.
Founded in 1924, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the advancement of zoos and aquariums in the areas of conservation, animal welfare, education, science, and recreation. AZA is the accrediting body for the top zoos and aquariums in the United States and 12 other countries. Look for the AZA accreditation logo whenever you visit a zoo or aquarium as your assurance that you are supporting a facility dedicated to providing excellent care for animals, a great experience for you, and a better future for all living things. The AZA is a leader in saving species and your link to helping animals all over the world. To learn more, visit www.aza.org.