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How You Can Help Big Cats

As part of FOUR PAWS’ work for wild animals in captivity, we focus on the situation of big cats in zoos, in private captivity, and in the entertainment industry.


Our first successful action took place in 2002, when four lion cubs used for taking photos with tourists were sent from Romania to a sanctuary in South Africa. Ever since then, FOUR PAWS has increasingly stepped in more on this issue and has undertaken research in several countries in order to collect information about the conditions and numbers of big cats in captivity.


In November 2007, our first transfer or “rescue action” with two lions from Romania and ten lions from Austria took place. Today, our Big Cat Sanctuary LIONSROCK in South Africa is now home to more than 90 big cats. Furthermore, we concentrate on collecting more information on big cats around the world, and will increase our network with other big cat sanctuaries and big cat experts.

Big Cats in the United States


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.


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.


Take Action Now!


The captive big cat crisis is why passage of the Big Cat Public Safety Act (H.R. 3546/S.2541) is so important! The Big Cat Public Safety Act 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.