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House bans keeping ‘big cats’ as pets

The Big Cat Public Safety Act, co-sponsored by Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, would prohibit keeping tigers, lions and other big cat species as pets

The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Big Cat Public Safety Act (H.R. 263) by a vote of 278 to 134. The bill would prohibit keeping tigers, lions and other big cat species as pets, and ban direct public contact like cub petting. Sponsored and championed by Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick and Michael Quigley, the bill moves to the Senate.

Since 1992, there have been at least 100 incidents involving big cats kept as pets or in private menageries. Among them, a juvenile tiger wandered in a Houston neighborhood in 2021 and an escaped pet cougar was found lounging in a driveway in Parkland, Florida, in 2019. In 2013, a 400-pound pet lion escaped in Fairfield Beach, Ohio. In 2009, a 330-pound tiger was discovered in a backyard in Ingram, Texas. In 2008, a leopard approached a woman in her yard in Neosho, Missouri. In 2005, a tiger roamed loose for days before being shot and killed in Simi Valley, California.

Fitzpatrick said, “As a member of the bipartisan Congressional Animal Protection Caucus, I am committed to ensuring our government is doing its part to promote animal welfare. For too long, big cats have been mistreated, exploited and abused in private roadside zoos. Our Big Cat Public Safety Act will prohibit the unlicensed, private possession of big cats and restrict their direct contact with the public, and I am proud to again join Congressman Quigley in championing this bipartisan bill.”

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