Silver Spring, Maryland (July 30, 2022) – For the second time in two years, the U.S. House of Representatives has taken action to safeguard the welfare of big cats currently housed at substandard facilities and protect the public. By a bipartisan vote of 278 to 134, 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.
“Since Congress last considered this important legislation, there have been state and federal indictments of reality TV stars for crimes involving exploitation of big cats, and case after case of big cats handed over or taken from those who should never have had them in the first place,” said Dan Ashe, President and CEO of AZA. “There is no question this legislation and the tools it provides federal officials to protect big cats are more needed than ever. I commend Reps. Quigley and Fitzpatrick for sponsoring the legislation, and I urge the U.S. Senate to act swiftly and send this legislation to the President.”
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 $3.8 million to big cat conservation field projects in 2020-2021. 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.
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.