AZA News Releases

Following a Decade of Advocacy, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Heralds Congressional Approval of the ‘Big Cat Public Safety Act’

The bill now heads to President Biden’s desk for approval.

Silver Spring, Maryland (December 7, 2022) – By a voice vote on Tuesday, December 6, the United States Senate sent the “Big Cat Public Safety Act” to President Joe Biden for his approval. The legislation will limit who can possess lions, tigers, and other big cats in the United States. The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and its allied groups have worked on versions of the “Big Cat Public Safety Act” for nearly a decade and strongly backed its passage.

“These days, there is a regularity in bad news about the state of wildlife. But yesterday, the United States Congress took noteworthy action with a strong bipartisan vote approving the Big Cat Public Safety Act. Tigers, lions, panthers, jaguars, and leopards are certainly roaring approval, as federal officials will finally have the tools to protect them from exploitation by self-promoting and profiteering ‘Tiger Kings’. This act of legislative compassion will help keep big cats out of the possession of people who are not equipped or trained to have them in the first place,” said Dan Ashe, AZA President and CEO. “We are proud to have worked alongside chief sponsors of the legislation, U.S. Representatives Mike Quigley and Brian Fitzpatrick, and U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal, Susan Collins, Tom Carper, and Richard Burr, along with hundreds of bipartisan cosponsors who agree that these majestic and endangered animals deserve protection. I also want to acknowledge the World Wildlife Fund, the Wildlife Conservation Society, the International Fund for Animal Welfare, the Humane Society of the United States, Animal Wellness Action, Big Cat Rescue, and the many other organizations that joined AZA and its members in supporting this legislation. I know everyone will be thrilled when President Biden signs the bill.”

The “Big Cat Public Safety Act” will strengthen federal law by prohibiting the possession of tigers, lions, and other big cat species except by qualified entities, which includes AZA-accredited facilities. It would also effectively end the unsafe and unethical use of big cats and their cubs for commercial photo-ops, petting, and 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 $3.8 million to big cat conservation field projects between 2020 to 2021. 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.

About AZA

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

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