Private ownership of tigers, lions, and other big cats as vanity pets or for commercial exploitation in poorly run facilities is a serious animal welfare problem. Unscientific and unethical breeding leads to an untraceable population of big cats that presents animal welfare and conservation issues as well as a danger to the public and first responders.
The "Big Cat Public Safety Act" (BCPSA) will strengthen existing law to prohibit the possession of tigers, lions, and other big cat species except by qualified entities, such as AZA-accredited facilities. Current private owners will be allowed to keep their animals. However, they will be required to register them with the government to ensure that first responders and animal control officers are aware that these animals are in their communities. The BCPSA also will place restrictions on public contact with these species and would curb the use of commercial photo-ops, petting, and similar activities that undermine animal care and welfare.
AZA-accredited facilities support conservation efforts around the globe, including contributing over $3.8 million to big cat conservation field projects from 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 here: http://www.aza.org/aza-safe.
AZA BCPSA Press Release Following Passage in the Senate (2022)
AZA BCPSA Press Release Following Passage in the U.S. House of Representatives (2022)
AZA BCPSA Blog Post (2021)
BCPSA Support Letter – 116th Congress (2019)