The Big Cat Public Safety Act would help to bring an end to roadside zoos. | Karolina Grabowska / Pexels

The ‘Big Cat Public Safety Act’ Could End Keeping Tigers As Pets

Netflix series 'Tiger King' helped to bring attention to the issue of keeping big cats as pets.

The U.S. is one step closer to banning bigs cats, like tigers, from being kept as pets. On Thursday, December 3, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Big Cat Public Safety Act by a vote of 272 to 114.

The bill—H.R. 1380—aims to amend the Captive Wildlife Safety Act to revise the requirements governing the trade of big cats. It would prohibit the breeding and possession of bigs cats by those who are not licensed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Current owners would be grandfathered in but would be required to register their animals. The bill also aims to protect public safety by restricting direct contact between the public and big cats.

“Animals like tigers, lions, leopards, and pumas should not be exposed to the miserable conditions so many of them in our country currently face,” Democratic Illinois Rep. Mike Quigley, who introduced the bill, said in a statement.

Tigers in Captivity

According to the World Wildlife Fund, a non-profit that works to protect endangered species, there are approximately 5,000 captive tigers in the U.S.

Although it barely scratched the surface in regards to the truth about captive tigers and other animals in captivity, the Netflix miniseries Tiger King helped draw widespread attention to the issue.

Currently, there are a number of roadside zoos, such as the one featured in the Netflix show, and other attractions that masquerade as sanctuaries and big cat rescues.

A good sanctuary will not typically buy, sell, trade, or breed the animals in their care. They also strive to provide adequate housing to animals. They aim to keep them in similar environments they would live in if they were in the wild.

In captivity, big cats like tigers usually suffer poor care, lack of adequate physical activity, and unnatural diets. According to animal advocacy organization Born Free, unnatural stress and frustration can cause animals to suffer behavioral problems called zoochosis.

The Big Cat Public Safety Act now goes before the Senate. Quigly says the passage of the bill will help ensure animals are treated humanely.

“It is my hope that the Senate will quickly bring this bill to the floor so we can get it signed into law before the year ends,” Quigly added.