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Help protect big cats

© FOUR PAWS | 2015

Big Cats in the U.S.


The private ownership of big cats, such as lions and tigers, remains a huge animal welfare and human safety issue. More than 10,000 big cats are estimated to be in private ownership in the U.S. However, the actual number is unknown because there is no comprehensive regulatory system in place to document how many captive-bred big cats are kept by private owners.


Big cats often live in inappropriate and unhealthy conditions, housed in small cages in backyards, roadside attractions, traveling exhibitions, and sub-standard zoos. To make matters worse, the public handling of tiger and lion cubs – who have been cruelly removed from their mothers at an early age, is allowed at many of these inhumane facilities.


As naturally wild animals, owners attempt to “tame” big cats through cruel handling and barbaric treatment, including declawing and defanging them, thus crippling and subjecting the cats to a life of chronic pain and debilitation. Even with these extreme measures, big cats retain their wild instincts and many accidents and deaths have occurred over the years involving the owners and general public. Too often such incidents result in the big cat’s death.


Sanctuaries today are filled to capacity with big cats who were either: relinquished to them by owners who could no longer afford to feed and care for the animals; confiscated by law enforcement due to neglect, abandonment, or animal cruelty; or rescued from roadside attractions, circuses, exotic animal auctions, and other public exhibits.

Contact your legislators today to support the Big Cat Public Safety Act!


Currently there is no U.S. federal law regarding the private ownership of big cats as pets. Instead, laws on ownership of exotic animals remain basically in the hands of state governments, with at least six states having no laws regulating the private possession of wild or exotic animals, which includes big cats.


The Big Cat Public Safety Act (H.R. 3546/S. 2541) will help bring an end to the excessive breeding and mismanagement of thousands of tigers, lions, and other big cats in the U.S. by prohibiting the private ownership of big cats.


Currently the fate of these big cats, like their population numbers, remains an unregulated mystery. The demand for them as exotic pets and the lucrative trade in their pelts and body parts provides dangerous incentive for their continued exploitation.

What You Can Do:


With the recent introduction of the companion bill in the Senate, FOUR PAWS urges people to please contact their U.S. Senators and Representative and ask them to cosponsor the Big Cat Public Safety Act (H.R. 3546/S. 2541) today!


To find your U.S. Senators visit:


To find your House Representative visit: