Bill to end keeping big cats as pets, ‘cub petting’ reintroduced in U.S. Senate

By Kitty Block and Sara Amundson

By on April 19, 2021 with 0 Comments

A bill that would prohibit public contact with big cats like tigers, lions and leopards and ban keeping these animals as pets has been reintroduced in the U.S. Senate.

The Big Cat Public Safety Act would end the suffering of animals like Elsa, a tiger cub kept as a “pet” and found outdoors during Texas’s historic winter storms earlier this year. It would also put a stop to the horrors big cat cubs, especially tiger cubs, endure at the hands of exhibitors and roadside zoo owners like Joe Exotic and Jeff Lowe, seen on Netflix’s “Tiger King.” These facilities offer the cubs to paying members of the public to pet, feed and pose for photos with — a practice called “cub petting.”

Stopping these practices is one of our top legislative priorities. The Big Cat Public Safety Act passed the House in the last Congress with nearly two-thirds of members supporting it. Unfortunately, the session ended before it could be taken up by the Senate.

The Senate version of the bill introduced today reflects the growing support this bill enjoys in Congress: it is sponsored by the bill’s longtime champion Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and, for the first time, Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, has signed on as the co-lead sponsor. They are joined by Sens. Tom Carper, D-Del., and Richard Burr, R-N.C.

The House version of the bill was reintroduced in January as H.R. 263 by Reps. Mike Quigley, D-Ill., and Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Penn.

More than 70 animal welfare organizations, professionally operated zoos and animal sanctuaries, and law enforcement organizations and officials have also endorsed the bill. Most states have passed laws banning keeping dangerous animals as pets and one more state, Nevada, is in the process of passing a similar law.

Most Americans support such a law as well. Our undercover investigations have laid bare the cruelty people like Joe Exotic commit against the animals; he is now serving 20 years in prison for, among other crimes, killing five tigers in his care. In the Netflix series, he is seen snatching tiger cubs away from their mothers moments after birth. As our own investigation of Joe Exotic’s roadside zoo and similar operations have revealed, tiger cubs used for public contact are fed irregularly, constantly woken from their sleep, and physically abused when they resist.

At three to four months of age, when they are too big to be used for public contact, they are sent to substandard facilities or into the pet trade. More tiger cubs are bred to replace them, continuing this cruel cycle. Conservationists have long feared that tigers discarded from the cub-petting industry may also feed the illegal market for animal parts used in some forms of traditional medicine, and the poaching of big cats in the wild.

The pandemic has provided another good reason to ban cub petting. The coronavirus has been found in captive tigers, lions, cougars and snow leopards in captivity, leading the U.S. Department of Agriculture to issue a rare advisory to big cat exhibitors to discontinue hands-on encounters with wild cats in the interests of public safety and animal welfare. (In guidance released last Thursday, the USDA also advises against public contact with nonhuman primates and animals in the Mustelidae family, which includes mink, ferrets and otters.)

Clearly, we need the Big Cat Public Safety Act now more than ever. This is common sense legislation and there should be no debate over ending the suffering of big cats at the hands of those who mistreat them. Please join us in urging your U.S. Senators and Representative to cosponsor and push for passage of this bill without delay.

Sara Amundson is president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund.

Breaking: Washington bans the sale of puppy mill puppies in pet shops

By on April 16, 2021 with 0 Comments
Breaking: Washington bans the sale of puppy mill puppies in pet shops

Today, Governor Jay Inslee signed the Humane Pet Sales Bill, making Washington state the fourth in the nation to prohibit the sale of puppy mill puppies in pet stores. Washington joins California, Maryland, Maine and over 380 localities across the country in taking a strong . . . 

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By on April 16, 2021 with 0 Comments
A resolution for Earth Day — and every day

With spring in full blossom, my favorite escape from Zoom meetings is getting outside for a long walk with my dog, Lilly. That time is a tremendous respite for both of us. In a year when we’ve spent so much time indoors, I think we . . . 

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By on April 14, 2021 with 6 Comments
IHOP broke its animal welfare promises — Here’s what you can do

Today, I’m asking for your help in urging IHOP to take action to keep its animal welfare promises. Here at the Humane Society family of organizations, we work with many corporations to improve conditions for animals whose welfare is affected by their operations. We believe . . . 

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Slow pace of state and federal inspections during pandemic makes things worse for dogs in puppy mills

By on April 12, 2021 with 2 Comments
Slow pace of state and federal inspections during pandemic makes things worse for dogs in puppy mills

State and federal inspections of puppy mills have been scaled back or, in some cases, have ground to a halt during the pandemic. As a result, dogs in these operations have been left without the most basic protections under the law. This is even more . . . 

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By on April 9, 2021 with 12 Comments
Breaking news: Maryland lawmakers ban wildlife killing contests

Maryland legislators have just passed a bill banning wildlife killing contests—cruel events where participants compete to win cash and prizes for killing the most or the heaviest animals. The vote comes just over a year after we did an undercover investigation of such contests in . . . 

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Breaking news: Saks Fifth Avenue will ditch fur

By on April 7, 2021 with 5 Comments
Breaking news: Saks Fifth Avenue will ditch fur

Saks Fifth Avenue, a North American retailer synonymous with luxury fashion, announced today that it will end sales of all fur products in its stores by the end of 2022. Saks follows in the footsteps of other major retailers, including Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s and Nordstrom, all . . . 

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California Senate committee advances bill to prohibit certain toxicity tests on dogs. HSUS poll shows most residents support outlawing such tests

By on April 7, 2021 with 3 Comments
California Senate committee advances bill to prohibit certain toxicity tests on dogs. HSUS poll shows most residents support outlawing such tests

As a bill to outlaw chemical tests on dogs that are not required by law advances in California, we are releasing a new poll today that shows overwhelming support among the state’s residents for ending such procedures. The poll, commissioned by the Humane Society of . . . 

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In HSI’s ‘Save Ralph,’ a lovable spokesbunny makes a case for ending cosmetics animal testing

By on April 6, 2021 with 7 Comments
In HSI’s ‘Save Ralph,’ a lovable spokesbunny makes a case for ending cosmetics animal testing

Animals used by the cosmetics testing industry have long suffered in silence. But they now have a new spokesbunny, Ralph, who is telling it like it is. “Save Ralph” is a powerful stop-motion animation short film featuring Oscar winner Taika Waititi as the voice of . . . 

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In Michigan and other states, wildlife managers appease trophy hunters at great cost to wildlife

By on April 5, 2021 with 4 Comments
In Michigan and other states, wildlife managers appease trophy hunters at great cost to wildlife

Most Americans do not support the wanton killing of wolves and other wildlife by trophy hunters and want them protected. But state wildlife managers, instead of respecting the majority and the science, are often eager to appease a shrinking population of trophy hunters and trappers. . . . 

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Korean musician who adopted meat farm dog works to change misconceptions in her country

By on April 2, 2021 with 4 Comments
Korean musician who adopted meat farm dog works to change misconceptions in her country

Perceptions in South Korea about dog meat are changing, with more Koreans than ever before supporting a ban on it. But some within the country continue to believe that “meat” dogs are somehow different from “pet dogs” and therefore not adoptable. Humane Society International is . . . 

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By on April 1, 2021 with 4 Comments
Breaking news: U.S. says grizzly bears should remain protected under Endangered Species Act

Grizzly bears in the lower 48 states should retain their current protections under the Endangered Species Act, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the primary federal agency that makes decisions on the conservation of wildlife species. This is encouraging news for these native . . . 

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