The founder of Big Cat Rescue, Carole Baskin gained fame when Netflix released the sensationalized docu-series “Tiger King” in March 2020, with pandemic-bound Americans tuning in with their newfound surplus of time. Tens of millions watched and discovered a largely hidden trade in captive big cats for roadside zoo spectacles and other forms of private ownership.
Since then, while many newly anointed stars would have used their fame for selfish purposes, Carole has doubled down on passing the Big Cat Public Safety Act, H.R. 263/S. 1210, the national legislation that would crack down on the trade and breeding in big cats for the pet trade and commercial cub petting.
Big cats are victims of people who traffic in them for profit, and there may be more tigers in the U.S. than in the wilds of Asia. The legislation is designed to choke off breeding of the cats for unacceptable purposes, while it also reminds people of their plight in the wild and the urgent fight to preserve them in their native habitats.
Commercial cub petting is waning, but it’s still a problem. Breeding tigers and lions for cub petting puts the animals at risk, but also places an enormous burden on private sanctuaries to pick up the refugees. Private ownership of these powerful, naturally wild and carnivorous cats is a recipe for human tragedy, too. There have been hundreds of incidents involving these captive wild animals lashing out at people out of fear and frustration. This circumstance potentially puts citizens and first responders in harm’s way, and it invariably turns out terribly for the cat, shot down because a reckless big cat owner put law enforcement agents in a terrible predicament.
You can work to persuade your representatives and senators that the Big Cat Public Safety Act is the right idea for the United States through Baskin’s special site, BigCatAct.com.
Marty Irby, executive director of Animal Wellness Action, provides an update on other legislation championed by the organization, including its work to prevent the next pandemic by eliminating the farming of mink; securing better conditions for pigs on factory farms, and cracking down on the ongoing abuse of roosters in illegal cockfighting activity.
You can listen to a sponsor of the Big Cat Public Safety Act, Rep. Mike Quigley, D.-Ill., discuss his support of the bill and other animal-related legislation in this additional recent episode of the Animal Wellness Podcast.