Legislation to end private big cat ownership in America passed in the House of Representatives

NEWS AND COMMENT: The Big Cat Public Safety Act is federal draft legislation which “prohibits the private ownership of big cats like lions and tigers and curbs the exploitative industry of cub-petting” in America. One of the driving forces behind the legislation is Carole Baskin of Big Cat Rescue (BCR). A lot of people think that it is a long overdue law because the cats are exploited in America as has been highlighted by the exploits of Joe Exotic and his cohort of private zoo owners recently publicised in the Netflix Tiger King docuseries.

House of Representatives
House of Representatives. Photo in public domain.
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Carole Baskin is delighted that on Thursday, December 3 the US House of Representatives passed the act with a vote of 272-114. Carole Baskin said:

We are thrilled that the Big Cat Public Safety Act passed the House with bipartisan support to protect the big cats from abuse, the public and first responders from injuries and death, and the tiger in the wild from extinction. None of these important goals are partisan in any way and we hope the Senate will follow suit quickly to make it into law.

The House Of Representatives has a majority of Democrats at 233 to 197 Republicans which probably explains why it passed. The problem is that the Senate is marginally dominated by Republicans so may struggle to be passed by that legislative chamber. Animal advocates certainly hope that it is passed into law. One congressman, Quigley, is as pleased as Baskin when he expressed his enthusiasm in a recent press release.

After months of the public loudly and clearly calling for Congress to end private big cat ownership, I am extremely pleased that the House has now past the Big Public Safety Act. Big cats are wild animals that simply do not belong in private homes, backyards or roadside zoos. Too often, law enforcement and first responders are the ones who end up in danger from these animals and, in a time when our first responders are already facing increased risk from the pandemic, we owe it to them to limit the additional dangers they face on the job.

Perhaps unsurprisingly some Republicans are against it despite having support on both sides of the aisle. They may not pass it because of other major issues such as the coronavirus pandemic relief and government spending. Sen Ted Cruz criticised Democrats for not addressing issues related to the pandemic and other important issues such as helping small businesses and reopening the economy while focusing on this big cat legislation.

Six Republican lawmakers object to the legislation because they say that it would “hinder conservation and education efforts by destroying structured big cat breeding programs”. Carole Baskin makes it clear that the legislation “doesn’t put anybody out of business. It does not stop breeding”.

It’s clear to anybody with an enlightened approach to big cat ownership that this legislation is long overdue and it should be passed and nothing should stop that process in the interests of the animals and people such as first responders who are in danger when dealing with incidents at private zoos.

P.S. Please note that this page contains two embedded Twitter tweets. These may stop functioning in the future for reasons beyond my control. So if you have two blank holes on this page where these tweets used to be and I apologise but I can’t do anything about it.

P.S. The United States, like the UK, has two legislative chambers in order to provide sufficient checks and balances to ensure that law which is passed as a sound as it could be. In America the two legislative chambers are the House Of Representatives and the Senate. They have different setups with many more representatives being in the House compared to the Senate.

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