I wonder how many people thought about Cecil the Lion this Father’s Day?
In a few days it will be the anniversary of a cruel event that made Cecil the “father” of the movement to end the importation of wildlife trophies into the U.S. and many other nations. On July 1, 2015 a rich dentist from the U.S. paid $50,000.00, lured the lion out of a protected reserve and shot him with an arrow. It then took him 40 hours to find Cecil and gun him down.
Some good things came of this, including Delta, American and United Airlines, along with many others, making it their policy to NOT transport big game trophies on their flights. 1.2 million people signed a petition called “Justice for Cecil”, which asked the Zimbabwe government to stop issuing hunting permits for endangered animals.
Five months after the killing of the Cecil, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service added two species of lions, in India and western and central Africa, to the endangered species list. The listings would make it more difficult (though not impossible) for US citizen hunters to kill these protected lions.
All are good measures, but nothing will bring back Cecil to his pride.
I’m writing you from the airport in D.C. where we just spent the weekend at the Taking Action for Animals conference and then had meetings non stop, all day long, with legislator’s aides about our federal bill. It’s called the Big Cat Public Safety Act and it will ban the private possession of big cats. It will end the suffering, some as awful, and much more prolonged than what Cecil endured.
The timing couldn’t be better for you to email AND CALL your members of congress because they have been hearing about the bill all day. All they need now is to know that people in their district actually care. We have learned that they ignore petitions, and pretty much disregard form letters. They want real letters and calls from their district and no one can do that but you.
Please take a moment out of your busy day to remember Cecil and to do what you can to end the suffering of big cats in the U.S. by sending those emails and making those calls. We make it easy at BigCatAct.com where we hope you will change the wording a bit and also make the call when the zip code locator brings up your Senator and Member of Congress.
6/17/16 A new draft law passed by the United Arab Emirates’ Federal National Council (FNC) has proposed a ban on the ownership of wild and exotic animals in the country. The law follows a ruling made in November 2014 by Sharjah’s ruler Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, which prohibits people in the emirate from owning dangerous predators as pets. The ban on wild and exotic animal pets will aim to regulate the possession and trade of predatory and dangerous animals. The only places where such animals can be kept will include zoos, wildlife parks, circuses, breeding and research centres. If seen in public with a leopard, cheetah or any other exotic animal, owners can face fines between Dhs 10,000 and Dhs 500,000.
4/21/16 The N.H. Fish and Game Department on Wednesday withdrew its proposal to re-establish a bobcat hunting season. In a 9-1 vote at the Statehouse on April 1, the legislative committee objected on the grounds that a bobcat season would violate the federal endangered species act and that the proposal was not in the financial best interest of the public. The money Fish and Game would have made from selling all 50 bobcat permits in its proposal totaled $5,000, while the cost to implement the hunting season was estimated to be between $15,000 and $20,000 per year.
Geoffrey Jones, chairman of the Stoddard Conservation Commission, said following the bobcat season proposal was an eye-opening experience for him in terms of how Fish and Game operates. “As we’ve all found out, people are pretty upset, and they’re not only upset about opening a season on a species that’s still in recovery, but I think people are upset about the process,” he said. Jones said he didn’t think the Fish and Game commission ever listened to people’s concerns.
Fish and Game received approximately 6,000 comments, with just about 250 in favor of the season, but voted to hunt bobcats anyway. Changes need to be made in how the department runs to represent the interests of all people, according to Jones. “We’re so relieved that New Hampshire’s bobcats and lynx are safe from hunters and trappers,” Collette Adkins, a Center for Biological Diversity attorney and biologist, said. “At public expense, these bobcat seasons would have benefited only the few who’d like to kill these beautiful animals for sport or ship their pelts overseas to China for profit. The state heard loud and clear that people value these cats in the wild and don’t want to see them cruelly trapped or shot.
4/20/16 Florida is still working on changing their rules, but sent this letter to licensees:
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has determined that newborn and infant nondomestic cats four weeks (28 days) of age or younger (neonate or neonatal) have special handling and husbandry needs. Please see the attached letter and Tech Note from APHIS regarding these requirements. Any question you have in regards to these new guidelines may be addressed to USDA’s office in Raleigh, North Carolina at 919-855-7100, or in Fort Collins, Colorado at 970-494-7478.
4/20/16 After the successful launch of The Jungle Book, Disney points to their policy of not using captive wild animals for their movies. “We’re not allowed to actually shoot exotic animals that are kept in captivity for movies. You can do cats and dogs, but you can’t do anything like a tiger or an elephant … you can never get them in a trained environment,” Rob Legato, a veteran visual effects artist who worked on Jungle Book, told a crowd at a panel during the National Association of Broadcast conference. The aforementioned policy outlines that Disney productions are, in general, not allowed to use exotic live animals outside of a zoo, sanctuary habitat or natural environment. It applies pretty much across the board — television or film productions, photo shoots, any media broadcast, special events — with only occasional exceptions, providing the said animal is not an ape or other large primate.
4/17/16 Jim Kellogg resigns from the California Department of Fish & Wildlife, protesting the appointment of non hunters to the commission, and stated “I’m not willing to accept the changing world,” he said. “The animal rights people who don’t favor hunting and fishing have more horsepower than they did before.” The shift away from having a board that is only comprised of hunters, when less than 1% of CA’s population are hunters, started under Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who appointed commissioners who supported efforts to protect marine life off the California coast.
4/16/16 The California Fish and Game Commission denied a proposal by the California Trappers Association to repeal the bobcat trapping ban that was put in place last year. The commissioners* stayed firm in their decision to support the hard-fought bobcat trapping ban.
4/5/2016 USFWS announced that they are rescinding the generic tiger loophole. Big Cat Rescue has been pressuring the USFWS since at least 2007 to rescind this loophole and on 8/22/11 after a meeting with the USFWS the Generic Tiger issue was published to the Federal Register for public comment and got over 15,000 comments in support of our request to ban the breeding of non purebred tigers. Read more.
4/5/2016 Iran becomes the 9th country to ban animal acts in circuses.
4/3/2016 USDA cracks down on abuse of cubs under the age of four weeks. In response to a 2012 legal petition filed by The Humane Society of the United States, World Wildlife Fund, Detroit Zoological Society, International Fund for Animal Welfare, Born Free USA, Big Cat Rescue, Fund for Animals and Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries, the U.S. Department of Agriculture issued guidance making clear that exhibitors violate the Animal Welfare Act by allowing members of the public to handle or feed infant exotic cats like tigers, lions, cheetahs, jaguars or leopards. Read more.
1/2016 Animal Planet cancels Yankee Jungle and announced that it would seek “to elevate the scientists” in its programming and cast its shows as more educational. “One day we just came in and looked at each other and said, ‘You know, no more bearded guys in the kitchen with f******g pigs running through the living room,'” David Zaslav, the head of Discovery Communications, which owns Animal Planet, told the Washington Post at the start of January. “Let’s get back to who we really are.” Rich Ross, a network exec recently told the New York Times that “we can get ratings by doing things the right way.”
2015 Big Cat Bans Enacted
11/3/15 WA voters on November 3, 2015 overwhelmingly approved Initiative Measure 1401, introducing state-level felony penalties for the purchase, sale, and/or distribution of products made from elephants, rhinos, lions, tigers, leopards, cheetahs, sea turtles, pangolins, sharks and rays.
10/22/15 Elkhart, TX passes a ban on dangerous wild animals, including nonhuman primates, skunks, jaguars, leopards, lynxes, tigers, lions, panthers, bears, coyotes or any other carnivorous wild animal or reptile within the city limits or one mile of the city limits. This ordinance is retroactive with no grandfather clauses and that the fees are also retroactive as well.
9/25/15 Netherlands became the tenth country to officially ban the use of wild animals in the circus! The ban, which was drafted back in 2014, went into effect this week and includes big cats, elephants, giraffes, zebras, sea lions and primates.
9/15/2015 Missoula, MT is the first city in Montana to ban the use wild and exotic animals in shows and non-educational displays. The City Council approved the measure on an 8-3 vote, saying it was time to apply what “we know versus what we do” regarding the treatment of animals.
8/3/2015 “Effective immediately, Delta Airlines will officially ban shipment of all lion, leopard, elephant, rhinoceros and buffalo trophies worldwide as freight.” VICTORY!! Big Cat Rescue asked you to let Delta Airlines know that animal lovers do not want international airlines to continue to transport exotic animal trophies such as Cecil. More than 5,000 of you took action for the big cats!!! And today Delta has finally agreed. This is fantastic news for all endangered and threatened big cats and other animals being hunted across the globe. Its announcement came as a group of airlines including Air France, KLM, Iberia, IAG Cargo, Singapore Airlines and Qantas signaled last week they would ban the transport of trophy-hunting kills.
8/1/2015 Zimbabwean wildlife authorities say they have suspended the hunting of lions, leopards and elephants in an area favored by hunters following the killing of Cecil the lion.
6/27/2015 Costa Rica just became the first country in Latin America to ban hunting for sport. Costa Rica’s Congress voted unanimously to approve the ban, which will protect the country’s wildlife – including several species of native big cats. Any hunters caught breaking the new law will face jail time or hefty fines.
3/14/2015 South Dakota became the final state (50th) to enact a felony provision for animal cruelty. These laws typically do not protect wild animals or farmed animals, but it’s a start.
3/5/15 Ringling announces that they will phase elephants out of their acts and we are all hoping tigers are phased out as well.
2/4/15 Hollywood Animals announces they are getting out of the big cat rental business because CGI has replaced their industry.
2/5/15 Asheville, North Carolina for banning circuses with wild animals! Read an article about it: http://www.citizen-times.com/story/news/local/2015/02/04/asheville-animal-cruelty-circus-ban-us-cellular-center-elephant/22889259/
2/5/15 Graystone Ranch in GA surrenders their USDA license and gives their wild cats and other animals to sanctuaries citing that they are tired of the business.
2014 Big Cat Bans Enacted
New York Assembly bans public contact with big cats AND their cubs. “The purpose of this bill is to protect animal caretakers, those interacting with wild animals, bystanders, and the animals themselves by preventing direct contact between wild animals and members of the public,” the legislation reads. What is even more encouraging to animal lovers is the justification for the law:
“In New York and throughout the United States, several roadside zoo exhibitors and traveling menageries allow members of the public to hold, take photos with, and otherwise interact with wild animals in roadside zoos, fairgrounds, malls and other public areas. This activity severely harms the welfare of the animals, endangers the public, and is a heavy burden on law enforcement.
This activity also requires an ongoing supply of young animals. Infant animals are prematurely separated from their mothers to be groomed for human handling, often die due to constant handling and travel, and are even subjected to abusive training and painful declawing or deranging procedures in a futile attempt to make them safe for public contact once they mature. After the animals grow too big for handling, they are held on leashes with no protective barriers. Often they are dumped and sent to substandard facilities.
There is no safe or humane result when direct contact with wild animals is allowed. Other states, including Kansas; Mississippi, and Arizona, have strengthened existing laws to address public contact
NJ: Stafford Township is making it pretty clear it doesn’t want to deal with another “Rocky the Bobcat” situation in the future. The township council adopted an ordinance that would ban new exotic animals within the boundaries of the municipality. Residents who can prove they already owned exotics before the effective date of the ordinance are grandfathered.
Mexico bans wild animals in circus acts.
Citi joined Porsche and PetsMart in the growing list of influential corporations that have banned the use of wild animals at their events and in their advertising. Big Cat Rescue had contacted these organization and explained to them why it is so bad to use big cats cubs for photos and ego props and they took immediate action after hearing from our supporters.
WVA: Gov. Tomblin has signed a bill into law to prohibit the private possession of dangerous wild animals. Introduced by Del. Randy Swartzmiller (D-1), HB 4393 passed the House by a vote of 72 to 23, and the Senate by a 22 to 11 vote. There remain only five states with little to no restrictions on the private possession of dangerous wild animals—Alabama, Nevada, North Carolina, South Carolina and Wisconsin.
CA: Los Angeles bans bullhooks, which may only apply to elephants, but the circus can’t make elephants perform without the threat of injury, so hopefully this means that the circus won’t be coming to LA any more with their abusive lion and tiger acts either.
UK: Announced its soon-to-be official ban on ALL wild animals in circuses, joining other European nations like Austria, Greece, Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. The ban is intended to be fully instituted starting in December 2015. Prior to the all-country ban announcement, over 200 UK local authorities had placed bans on animal circuses with over two-thirds banning all performing animals, according to Animal Defenders International. An official date for the legislation still needs to be passed but the government is confident that it will. When it does, anyone who breaks the law after December 2015 will receive a heavy $8,000 fine, according to the BBC.
2013 Big Cat Bans Enacted
Ft. Wayne, IN: Bears, wolves, lions, tigers, alligators, and venomous snakes are prohibited within the city limits of Ft. Wayne, Indiana.
El Salvador joined Bolivia, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Paraguay and Peru who have all prohibited the use of wild animals in circus acts.
EU: May 2013; the European Union’s interpretation of CITES was changed making it illegal to sell big cat claw jewelry.
Slovenia: Circus Animals Get A Break. Slovenia banned the use of wild animals in circuses, making it the fourth European Union nation to impose such a ban. In the United States, at least 55 communities have some ban or restriction in place on the use of animals in circuses or for elephant rides. In December, the City Commission of Hallandale Beach, Florida voted to ban bullhooks, bucking straps and other cruel devices used to train and dominate animals to perform tricks for entertainment. And the Los Angeles City Council will soon vote on an ordinance that would ban the use of elephants in traveling circuses, and also prohibit use of the bullhook.
The steady increase in legislation banning private ownership represents recognition by our society that private ownership leads to massive abuse. Social values evolve. It took decades to ban slavery in England and for women to win the right to vote in America. Those ideas started out as “radical”, held by a small minority. Gradually more and more people understood and agreed until they became a part of our value system that we take for granted today. The same trend is happening with private ownership of exotics. Gradually more and more people are realizing that this simply leads to widespread abuse of these animals. The best evidence of this is the accelerating trend in state laws. Just since 2005 eight more states have passed some level of ban.
Ohio Bans Private Possession of Most Exotic Cats: On June 5, 2012 the state legislature banned the private possession of dangerous wild animals, including most exotic cats. Those who have the animals must register them but cannot buy or breed more. The only exemptions for breeding are AZA accredited zoos (and ZAA for now, but that needs to change) and sanctuaries that are accredited by the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries can continue to rescue wild animals. Up until now Ohio was second (behind FL) in the nation for the number of killings, maulings and escapes by big cats.
Oprah Announces No Fur in Her O Magazine: The October 2011 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine announced its decision to never feature real fur in the magazine and only use cruelty free materials in its stories, including no leather or exotic skins. This decision was broadly embraced by the readership.
CA, West Hollywood Bans the Sale of Fur: West Hollywood, CA became the first city in the nation to ban the sale of fur. With a three to one vote (with one abstention) the City Council approved the ordinance. The rule faced opposition from the local Chamber of Commerce, whose main trade group, The Fur Information Council, happens to be based in West Hollywood. Nearly half of the 200 stores in town sell at least some fur items and it is estimated to account for approximately $2 million in revenue each year. The measure will take effect on Sept. 21, 2013.
NY, New York City Bars Ban Fur Clad Customers: Bar owner Johnny Barounis, a vegetarian, refuses to allow patrons wearing real fur to enter his trendy bards in Manhattan. His bards include Revision Lounge and Gallery in the East Village, the Back Room on the Lower East Side, and Auction House and Fetch, on the Upper East Side. “We tell people, you are welcome to come in, but the fur stays out” said Barounis.
Holland: The Holland Circus will no longer include wild animals in their shows. Here is a link to the dutch article: http://www.nu.nl/binnenland/2992728/circus-renz-stopt-met-wilde-dieren.html
UAE Ajman: Jan 2012 became the first emirate to ban the keeping of dangerous animals in private homes. Last July, a two-year-old girl was attacked by a lion cub in Ajman and had to be rescued by a maid.
Greece: Feb 3, 2012 The Greek Government has banned the use of all animals in circuses following a campaign by ADI and the Greek Animal Welfare Fund (GAWF), backed by over 50 local animal protection groups across Greece. The new animal protection law also addresses a number of important issues concerning stray animals.
Bogata, Columbia and Paraguay Ban Wild Animals in Circus Acts June 2012: Hot on the heels of the news last week that the Colombian capital Bogota is to ban all animals in circuses, Paraguay has announced a nationwide ban on wild animals in circuses. Animal Defenders Intenational (ADI) applauds Paraguay for becoming the latest country to ban the use of wild animals in circuses under Resolution 2002/12 passed this week by the Secretary of the Ministry of the Environment (Secretaría del Medio Ambiente). Since ADI launched a major undercover investigation of animals in circuses in South America in 2007, a series of bans have swept across the continent as Governments have acted decisively to end the suffering of these animals. Bans are in place in Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador and now Paraguay. Legislation for a ban passed its second reading in Colombia earlier this year and legislation for a ban is well advanced in Brazil.
China July 20, 2012: Wildlife conservation and forestry departments of northeast China’s Heilongjiang province announced that visitors will soon not be allow to pay for pictures with Siberian tiger cubs in a tiger park. More at China Bans Cub Petting.
2011 Big Cat Bans Enacted
China, England, Sweden, Austria, Costa Rica, India, Finland, Bolivia, Greece and Singapore have all banned or restricted the utilization of big cats in circuses-it’s time for the U.S. & South Africa to do the same!
Las Vegas, NV Dec 30, 2011: The MGM Grand announced that they are permanently closing the lion exhibit on Jan 31, 2012. Since 1999 it has had a constant rotation of 20 lions and cubs at a time who were provided by Keith Evans of The Cat House, who keeps 40 breeding lions in dog kennels on 7.5 ac in the nearby desert. Images of the site are those of barren, dilapidated, overcrowded cages. Evans claims to have been breeding lions for this purpose for the past 40 years which begs the question, “where all of these cats are now?” Evans claims he intends to keep breeding for the pay to play market, but it is hoped that when people see how these cats live, outside of the 9 million dollar MGM exhibit, they will not patronize such exploitation.
Canada, City of Toronto Sept 2011: The City of Toronto banned the sale of cats and dogs in pet stores.
China Jan 20, 2011: Live animal shows and circuses are hugely popular in China, and draw around 150 million visitors a year at 700 zoos. However, thanks to people who have stood up for the animals, the Chinese government has banned animal circuses and warned its zoos they must stop abusing animals or face closure. The Ministry of Construction, who is the governmental agency overseeing the zoos, issued a declare on October 26th, 2010 to stop animal performance in all the zoos. The State Forestry Administration also banned live feeding in zoos and safari parks and is forcing zoos to stop selling animal parts in their shops. Zoo restaurants will have to stop serving dishes made out of rare animals and zoos will no longer be able to pull the teeth of baby tigers so that tourists can hold them and pose with them for photos.
NJ Dec 15, 2011 Thanks to the combined resources of Big Cat Rescue, Born Free, Tigers in America, WWF, Mark O’Donnell and Senator Lesniak, there was such overwhelming support for S3061 that it passed 37 to 0 ! It will go before the full Assembly next and we will alert you when to contact your Assembly members in NJ. This bill requires all NJ tiger owners to microchip, photograph and register their tigers with all of the acquisition and disposition of tigers to be reported and documented, as well.
OH Jan. 6, 2011 Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland issued an executive order that prohibits keeping dangerous wild animals as pets. The rule bans new private ownership of big cats, bears, primates, alligators, crocodiles, and particularly large and dangerous constricting snakes and venomous snakes. Individuals who currently possess these animals and who have never had their licenses revoked may keep them, but they must register with the state and microchip the animals. They cannot replace them once they die or are relinquished. Unfortunately, the incoming Gov. Kasich refused to ratify the proposed law and it expired in April 2011. On Oct. 18 Terry Thompson released 56 lions, tigers, leopards, cougars, bears and primates before committing suicide. All but 6 of the animals were shot to death by authorities.
FL Jun 3, 2011 Not a law, but a big win for the cats when the Chris Evert Tennis Classic confirmed that there are no plans to have any big cats around the tennis tournament or in the surrounding family activities areas.
UK Jun 23, 2011 MPs have defied the government and backed a ban on wild animals being used in circuses in England after a heated debate in Parliament. The motion is not binding on the government but will increase pressure on ministers to act over the issue. Downing Street said the government would “recognize the will of the House”.
An anti-wildlife rider in the committee bill funding the Interior Department was removed, thanks to an amendment offered on the floor by Reps. Norm Dicks, D-Wash., Mike Thompson, D-Calif., Mike Fitzpatrick, R-Pa., and Colleen Hanabusa, D-Hawaii, which was approved by a vote of 224-202 in July. The “extinction rider” would have prevented the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from implementing some of the most crucial sections of the Endangered Species Act, such as protecting any new species and designating critical habitat for currently listed species.
In June 2011 the board of directors for the American Zoological Association (AZA) formalized their 2008 ban on the breeding of white tigers, white lions or king cheetahs by their member zoos. Their report said, “Breeding practices that increase the physical expression of single rare alleles (i.e., rare genetic traits) through intentional inbreeding, for example intentional breeding to achieve rare color-morphs such as white tigers, deer, and alligators, has been clearly linked with various abnormal, debilitating, and, at times, lethal, external and internal conditions and characteristics, which are outlined in this paper.”
2010 Big Cat Bans Enacted
Nationwide & Canada: Dade City’s Wild Things acquired a white tiger cub from G.W. Exotics, a notorious Oklahoma breeder, that they are marketing to the hilt in order to make money off her as quickly as possible. To accomplish that they dragged her into PetSmart to drum up some business. Almost 900 advocates responded to our alert and wrote to PetSmart demanding an end to displays of exotics like this, knowing the bad message it sends. We’re very pleased to share that PetSmart listened and immediately responded positively. According to corporate spokesperson Margie Wojciechowski at the Phoenix, AZ headquarters, she confirmed she had just come from a meeting and the company has “reinforced with our managers that no exotic pets are allowed on store premises. There will be no live display of exotic animals for events.” More Here
FL Sept. 1, 2010: The Florida Wildlife Commission passes final rules on the keeping of wild animals HERE
FL June 23, 2010: Thanks to thousands of letters from Big Cat AdvoCats the Florida Wildlife Commission agreed to change the wording of their Nuisance Wildlife rules so that bobcats who are trapped as nuisance wildlife may not be killed, but rather must be released. While our 2,000+ letters asked that bobcats be removed from the list of nuisance wildlife we are still thankful that the FWC has decided to at least spare the life of bobcats who are trapped this way. We will continue to educate the FWC and the public as to why bobcats are so necessary to our ecosystem so that they may soon be removed from the list of animals that may be trapped.
FL June 23, 2010:Animal AdvoCats vs Animal Terrorists. The FWC agreed to ban the practice of “fox penning” which was a blood sport in 16 locations in FL where foxes, coyotes and bobcats would trapped or purchased from trappers to be turned loose in fenced areas for the purpose of training hunting dogs. Packs of dogs would be turned loose in the pens and scored on how persist ant they were in chasing the wildlife. The FWC had rules that required hiding places for the wildlife, but investigators found that the operators would often block the access to the safety areas so that the foxes, coyotes and bobcats could be cornered and ripped apart by the dogs for the amazement and betting opportunities of the dog owners. For the first time in the history of the FWC meetings that we have attended since 1993 there were more animal advocates than animal terrorists in the room to testify. 52 concerned citizens spoke up in favor of a ban while only 20 animal abusers / hunters spoke up in favor of continuing the blood sport as part of their “cultural heritage and God given right.” As more of these egregious practices are exposed we expect the number of main stream Americans who show up and speak up to increase.
FL June 3, 2010: Thanks to thousands of letters from Big Cat AdvoCats the legislature amended Florida Statutes 379.374 Bond required, amount.
(2) No person, party, firm, association, or corporation shall possess or exhibit to the public either with or without charge or admission fee, any Class I wildlife, as defined in s. 379.303 and commission rule, without having first guaranteed financial responsibility, in the sum of $10,000, for any liability which may be incurred in the possession or exhibition to the public of Class I wildlife. The commission shall adopt, by rule, the methods of payment that satisfy the financial responsibility, which may include cash, the establishment of a trust fund, an irrevocable letter of credit, casualty insurance, a corporate guarantee, or any combination thereof, in the sum of $10,000 which shall be posted with the commission. In lieu of the $10,000 financial responsibility guarantee required in this subsection, the person, party, firm, association, or corporation has the option to maintain comprehensive general liability insurance, with minimum limits of $2 million per occurrence and $2 million annual aggregate, as shall protect the person, party, firm, association, or corporation from claims for damage for personal injury, including accidental death, as well as claims for property damage which may arise. Proof of such insurance shall be submitted to the commission. Effective July 1, 2010. In 2009 there were 111 Class I possessors in FL who managed to escape the bond requirement because they claimed they were not “exhibitors.” This new language was necessary to close the loophole in the 2007 law so that all “possessors” of Class I animals must post this minimal bond.
MO 2010: Large Carnivore Act (LCA): This law requires anyone who owns, breeds, possesses, or transports a large carnivore on or after January 1, 2012, to obtain a permit from the Missouri Department of Agriculture and to maintain a minimum of $250,000 in liability insurance. Verification of insurance must be provided annually. The LCA (Section 578.600 – 578.624 RSMO) includes the following protections for the animals;
Requires the Department of Agriculture to enforce the provisions of the Act to ensure that owners of such animals “practice best husbandry and health care protocols to ensure the humane and safe treatment of large carnivores on behalf of their physical well-being.”
Requires owners of large carnivores to provide their animals with adequate care and treatment, as established by USDA, in the areas of housing, handling, transportation, sanitation, nutrition, water, general husbandry, veterinary care, and protection from extreme weather and temperature.
Prohibits the issuance of a permit to own or possess a large carnivore to anyone who has “been found guilty of, or pled guilty to, a violation of any state or local law prohibiting neglect or mistreatment of any animal…”
Prohibits the issuance of a permit to anyone who has any type of felony conviction within the previous ten years.
OH July 1, 2010: A deal struck between The Humane Society of the United States, Ohio agriculture leaders and Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland will lead to major animal welfare improvements in Ohio on a raft of issues to protect exotic, domestic and farmed animals. The agreement includes recommendations from all of the parties for the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Care Board, the Legislature, and the Governor to ban the acquisition of dangerous exotic animals as pets, such as primates, bears, lions, tigers, large constricting and venomous snakes, crocodiles and alligators.
2010 Worldwide Bans
China October 27, 2010: The Ministry of Housing & Urban/Rural Development suggested in an official web posting that zoos should adequately feed and house animals, should stop selling wild animal products and serving wild animal parts in restaurants, and should stop staging circus-like trained animal acts. The authorities report that zoos could be shut down for non compliance. This is the first step toward permanent laws to protect the animals.
Germany June 17, 2010: The zoo director and three of the staff at the Magdeburg Zoo were convicted of cruelty to animals for killing three tiger cubs who were the result of a cross breeding tigers at the zoo. The zoo had bred a Siberian tiger to a Sumatran tiger. All of the tigers in the U.S. that are referred to as Bengal tigers are actually hybrids of Bengal and Siberian tigers as the result of the white tiger craze when Bengal tigers were inbred to the point of non existence in America. A fine of 8,000 euros was suspended upon the condition that the zoo not kill cubs as the result of their own improper breeding plans. The Magdeburg zoo case drew attention to the common practice of zoos breeding and killing animals to keep youngsters on exhibit.
Russia November 29, 2010: Russia is now filing a bill for an exotic pet ban like other countries have passed. Despite Prime Minister Vladimir Putin having a pet tiger named Mashenka, the country is working on passing a bill that would restrict the ownership of monkeys, tigers, and crocodiles, because of their danger to the public and diseases they can carry, according to the bill that was submitted on Nov. 29, 2010
2009 Big Cat Bans Enacted
AL, Albertville 5/7/09: “People should be able to walk their neighborhood without fear,” Albertville police Chief Benny Womack. The ordinance approved unanimously by the council Monday covers “ any mammal, amphibian, reptile or fowl which is of a species which, due to size, vicious nature or other characteristics would constitute a danger to human life, physical well-being, or property…” Womack said the law covers the manner in which animals are to be kept, the construction of pens and the requirement that they meet all zoning and building codes. The law governs the display of proper warning signs, which will be provided by the police department. All owners of animals included in the ordinance must register and obtain a permit for the animals, provide two color photographs and provide proof of a minimum of $100,000 in liability insurance.
CA, South Tahoe 4/8/09: A ban on the retail sale of cats and dogs was approved to curb the resale of dogs and cats bred in mills. Breeders still can sell directly to people, and stores can work with rescue groups and shelters to have cats and dogs adopted at their businesses. “We understand that this is the first such ordinance in North America,” said Dawn Armstrong of the Lake Tahoe Humane Society & SPCA. “Others can now take courage. With the investigations and the work being done in Southern California and in other states, it just may be the beginning of the end of the puppy mill industry.”
FL, Clearwater: This rule was first discovered to be on the books in 2009, but it is unknown as to when it originated. Sec. 8.03. Keeping of certain animals prohibited. No animals, and in particular an animal which by its nature is wild and untamed, bees, reptiles, fowl or livestock, including horses, mules, cows, sheep, hogs or calves, except as otherwise provided in this chapter, shall be kept, harbored, raised or permitted to run at large on any property either public or private within the city limits of the city by any person. (Code 1980, § 91.03)
FL, Deland 5/11/09: Deland requires that all pet cats and dogs be sterilized to prevent unwanted litters from ending up in the county pound.
FL, Ft. Pierce 4/11/09: Pet owners who don’t spay and neuter their cats and dogs must pay a $75 annual fee to register and license the animals, while owners who sterilize their animals would pay $10 annually. The goal is to push people toward sterilizing their animals to limit the number of strays. Failure to comply the city’s ordinance could result in a $100 civil fine for the first offense, $200 for second offense and mandatory court for third offense.
FL, Lee County – Cape Coral 5/30/09: Lee County Animal Services is instituting a trap, neuter, and release program (or TNR) in hopes of controlling the feral cat population. A first for Lee County, the program was developed with help from the public as well as utilizing input from University of Florida. The TNR program hopes to put power into the hands of the public by offering education, traps, and assistance in catching cats.
FL, Ormand Beach 5/24/09: Mandatory sterilization of pet cats and dogs to prevent shelter deaths.
HI 5/18/09: Animals can be shielded by temporary restraining orders and will receive greater protection from pet hoarders after state lawmakers passed two pieces of legislation aimed at expanding and clarifying animal cruelty laws. Defines an animal hoarder as an individual found in possession of more than 15 dogs, cats or a combination of dogs and cats. The previous number was 20. The bill also clarifies the misdemeanor offense of depriving an animal of sustenance, including food, water and shelter. The bill is aimed at owners who obsessively collect animals and kennel them.
IN, Richmond 4/7/09: The Richmond Common Council passed proposed revisions to the city code regarding domestic and wild animal care and control in the city. Council voted 6-3 in favor of the proposed changes that had to do with care, trapping, breeding, controlled colonies of cats and free roaming animals.
MI, Cadillac 4/8/09: The new taxidermy laws make taxidermists dispose of all animal waste in a type two landfill. They must also keep more detailed records of animals they work on and keep the records for six years. Permit and tag fees are also going up.
MI, Manchester Village: April 20th the Manchester Village Council adopted a new ordinance regarding exotic and wild pets.
Village Ordinance 272, bans the owning or keeping of exotic animals in the community and was passed unanimously. “If you allow someone to keep an alligator in their homes and do nothing about it, how far can people go?” Village Mgr. Jeff Wallace said. “That’s why we tried to make it as specific as possible.” The general penalties for violation of the ordinance could include up to a $1,000 fine and possible 90 days in jail. Each violation is considered a separate offense.
MI, Rosemont 4/9/09: The city of Rosemont banned steel jawed traps after news reports of dogs being killed in them. This ban will help protect bobcats, lynx and domestic cats too.
OH, Perrysburg March 6, 2009:Pending ban. The law, as originally drafted, would allow police to criminally charge any
exotic pet owner. “It shall be unlawful for any person in the city of Perrysburg to keep, maintain, or have possession or control over any ‘exotic animal,'” the proposed law reads.
OR March 25, 2009:Pending ban. The Oregon Senate passed legislation 3/25/09 to protect exotic animals and phase out Oregon’s role in the permitting of exotic pets. Included under the new exotic-pets category are non-domestic cats, non-human primates, non-domestic dogs, crocodiles, and alligators. SB 391 will move the majority of the permitting process to the USDA and give current owners up to a year to renew their permit and then discontinue issuing permits after that date. “These animals pose a danger to our children, our domestic pets, and once cornered, our law enforcement officials don’t have the appropriate training to deal with them,” said Senate Majority Leader Richard Devlin (D-Tualatin). “This is common sense legislation.” SB 391 also prohibits the breeding of exotic cats over 50lbs. The bill will now go move to the House for consideration. Wildlife Images director Dave Siddon could tell countless horror stories of wild animals, from lions to bears, adopted as cute babies then cast away after gaining several hundred pounds. “We probably are approached by a half-dozen people a month that have wild animals as a pet and they need a home for it,” said Siddon, whose father founded the animal rehabilitation center near Merlin. “Everything from bears to chinchillas and everything in between.”
PA Lebanon City Council June 3, 2009: Bans snakes larger than 4 1/2 feet long, reptiles over ten pounds and ALL exotic animals must be kept in their cages. Councilman Wiley Parker said fines range from $50 to $300.
SD 2/4/09: Hunting Mountain Lions With Dogs Banned.
Bill #: SB75 would have allowed dogs to be used in the hunting of mountain lions. Fortunately, this horrible bill failed in the Senate (6 Yeas, 27 Nays) See the vote here: http://legis.state.sd.us/sessions/2009/RollCall.aspx?Vote=801
VT 8/28/09: Price Chopper pulled their sponsorship of the Champlain Valley Exposition when then learned that the fair was going to host a big cat act.
The Felid TAG (Taxon Advisory Group) publicly denounced the practice of keeping exotic cats as pets.
Australia, Adelaide Hills 5/28/09: The RSPCA says by-laws introduced by an Adelaide hills council to reduce cat numbers should be considered across the state. Owners will have to microchip and register cats under new laws. There will also be a limit of two cats per household. “However we do think the only permanent solution to controlling wild and domestic cat populations is desexing.” Meanwhile the Kangaroo Island Council will consider introducing a limit on the number of cats that can be kept on a property. The council introduced strict by-laws in 2005 that require compulsory desexing, micro chipping and registering of cats.
Australia, Ipswich, Queensland, 6/7/09: Ipswich bans circus animals. The ipswitch City Council has ruled exotic circus animals are a relic of a cruel past. On July 1 Ipswich will become the first Queensland city to ban circuses with exotic animals from using any land under council ownership or control. Councillor Paul Tully said the time had come for Australia to unite and ban the cruel use of circus animals. “These animals are put in tiny cages for their whole lives and carted from one end of Australia to the other for their public performances,” he said. “This is the beginning of the end of animal circuses in Australia.” The Brisbane council’s Labor opposition has said it too would support such a ban.
British Columbia 3/17/09: The tragic death two years ago of a woman killed by a caged tiger as children looked on helped spur the British Columbia government to implement new rules to ban dangerous pets says Environment Minister Barry Penner. 1,256 species that pose a serious threat to public safety, including leopards, lions, tigers, boa constrictors, pythons, monkeys, chimps and caimans have been banned. “We are determined to do something to improve public safety while also protecting these species from improperly being brought into British Columbia. The only effective way to prevent this abuse and neglect is through the introduction of regulations,” said Penner. Read quote by Rob Laidlaw, Director of Zoocheck Canada Inc.
Bahrain 4/11/09: Authorities in Bahrain have stepped up security on the borders after inspectors found exotic wild animals caged in residential areas as pets. “Traders and buyers should understand that Bahrain is not the right environment for such species. It is illegal to keep them in these conditions and some wild animals, like tigers and crocodiles, endanger lives,” said Salman Abdulnabi, head of the Animal Wealth Directorate.
Bolivia, South America 6/2009: Bolivia’s president, Evo Morales, signed Law 4040 — banning wild and domestic animals in traveling circuses throughout his country. This is the first national circus ban in South America and the world’s first ban on ALL circus acts. This victory was the culmination of years of work by Animal Defenders International (ADI), local animal protection groups and individuals throughout Bolivia.
South Africa 6/15/09: “Canned” lion hunting – the commercial shooting of captive-bred lions for trophies – appears to have been finally canned itself by a Bloemfontein High Court decision that requires all captive cats to live free for two years before they can be slaughtered. Now questions are being raised as to what will happen to the 4,000 captive-bred lions in South Africa. The head of the Endangered Wildlife Trust, Yolan Friedman, has applauded the decision which she said would effectively put an end to canned lion
hunting in South Africa. “We believe that the principles of ethical, humane treatment of all species should never be compromised for the economic enrichment of a few, as has been the case with canned lion hunting in South Africa,” she said. Friedman urged the government to begin a process immediately to avert “a welfare crisis” in which the country’s existing 4 000 captive-bred lions could “fall prey to neglect and cruel treatment” now that they had lost their economic value. “To these animals, whose lives so far have been nothing more than a caged existence to provide a trophy to an unethical hunter, their future remains uncertain,” she said.
Thorold, Ontario 12/8/09 passed exotic pet law banning ownership of primates (including apes), tigers, leopards, panthers, cougars, most reptiles, dangerous snakes, elephants, marine mammals, venomous snakes and some other wildlife not native to Canada. The law was passed after Jaguars were found to be kept as pets there.
2008 Big Cat Bans Enacted
CITES Decision 14.69:
Parties with intensive operations breeding tigers on a commercial scale shall
implement measures to restrict the captive population to a level supportive only
to conserving wild tigers; tigers should not be bred for trade in their parts and
derivatives. (Most of the tiger breeding in the U.S. is for photo booths and petting sessions. None of the breeding of generic tigers does anything to conserve wild tigers. Ask your lawmakers to uphold this CITES decision and end the breeding of tigers outside of the Species Survival Plans in AZA accredited zoos.)
Brazil: 12/11/08 After ongoing efforts by many animal organizations an animal group in Brazil has successfully lobbied and a law has been passed banning all animals in circuses there.
Iberville, LA: Referring back to a law that has been on Iberville Parish’s books since 1993, the LA Wildlife and Fisheries Dept. finally banned the notorious Tiger Truck Stop from using live tigers as a public display. This ends a sad history of 21 years of tigers in small concrete cages in the middle of this busy truck stop, with the exception of Tony the truck stop tiger who was grand fathered in and continues to pace in his small, dank cage right next to the gas pumps where truckers frequent 24/7. When Tony is gone, they will not be allowed, under the new law, to display another tiger.
Johor, Malaysia Bans ALL Commercial Hunting: The Johor government banned all forms of commercial hunting. Johor is home to the Endau-Rompin National Park, the second largest national park in Peninsular Malaysia. The state will lose some money in licensing fees — in 2006, it issued more than 2,000 hunting licenses — but that pales into insignificance when compared with the benefits of such a move. Johor wants to save the tiger. The ban would also help the Department of Wildlife and National Parks to collect data, train staff and curb wildlife crime. Classified as an endangered species, the tiger is fully protected. But its food is not. The ban should ensure that the population of animals that the tiger preys on — such as wild boar and deer — will increase. If the tigers have sufficient food, they are also unlikely to wander into areas with human habitation.
Australia: August 3, 2008 Environment Minister Peter Garrett immediately banned the import of Savannah cats into Australia upon learning they were a cross between a Serval and domestic cat. He said the Savannah cat posed “an extreme threat to Australia’s native wildlife”.
MO: Effective March 2008 MO Wildlife Code changed as follows:
Because of the inherent danger and potential liability associated with the possession of bears, mountain lions, wolves and their hybrids, the Conservation Commission now requires owners of these animals to identify each individual with a microchip embedded under the animal’s skin. The owners must also submit a blood or tissue sample for DNA analysis. All animals must be registered with the Department when acquired, born, at death, or when sold. This will aid enforcement of illegal sales of these animals and will help Department biologists distinguish escaped and released captives from wild animals. MO Conservationist magazine Feb. issue at firstname.lastname@example.org where Wildlife Code book for 2008 has been released.
Sheriff Kevin T. Harrison asks county to ban private possession of dangerous exotics HERE
December 11, 2008 Park Hills, MO bans most exotic animals, except small monkeys, within the city limits.
OK: 5/7/08 Gov. Henry signed Senate Bill 1463 into law last week. Sen. James A. Williamson (R-Tulsa) introduced the legislation which prohibits the use of computer-assisted remote control hunting of wildlife. The bill also makes it illegal to engage in, sell, offer for sale, assist in or provide facilities for computer-assisted remote control hunting. Thirty-eight states prohibit Internet hunting, and a federal bill introduced in the U.S. Congress – S. 2422 and H.R. 2711, the Computer- Assisted Remote Hunting Act – would end Internet hunting nationwide.
UT: Internet Hunting Banned. Gov. Huntsman signed Senate Bill 164 into law. Sen. Michael Waddoups (R-6th) introduced the legislation which prohibits the use of a computer or other device to remotely hunt an animal.37 states now prohibit Internet hunting, and a federal bill introduced in the U.S. Congress – S. 2422 and H.R. 2711, the Computer- Assisted Remote Hunting Act – would end Internet hunting nationwide.
Thanks to all of you who wrote letters, attended town hall meetings and met with your lawmakers, the world is a little kinder place. Many of the worst breeders, dealers and tiger-tamer-wanabees were finally shut down. Most of these collectors were fined or shut down by USDA or the state, or both in some cases:
CA: Hesperia Zoo AKA Cinema Safari Zoo owned by Stephanie Taunton was put on probation and fined $30,000 by USDA.
FL: Horseshoe Creek owned by Darryl Atkinson was shut down by USDA and FL.
FL: Wild Things’ land owned by Kathy Stearns went into foreclosure and bankruptcy.
FL: Amazing Exotics appears to have been shut down. It was notorious for allowing contact between large exotic cats and the public for a fee. The head of their tiger-tamer-wanabee program was Ron Holiday (real name Ron Guay) who gained fame in the HBO movie Cat Dancers and the book by the same name. His career in dancing with big cats ended when a white tiger he had raised from a cub killed his wife and his lover within a few days of each other in 1998.
IN: Great Cats of Indiana, formerly known as Cougar Valley Farms, Inc., owned by Robert B. Craig and Laura Proper came under investigation by USDA
IN: Ervin’s Jungle Wonders owned by Ervin Hall was shut down by USDA for a three year term.
MO: Wesa-A-Geh-Ya owned by Sandra Smith was shut down after a visitor lost his leg to a tiger.
MS: Cougar Haven closed its doors for good, sending the last 3 big cats to Big Cat Rescue.
NC: Metrolino Wildlife Park owned by Steven Macaluso was shut down by USDA.
NE: Zoo Nebraska was ordered to find appropriate homes for their big cats and bears.
OH: Pearson’s L & L Exotics owned by Lorenzo Pearson was shut down by USDA following six years of violations.
TX: Zoo Dynamics, owned by Marcus Cook was fined $100,000.00
Australia: Craig Bush, the “Lion Man” was ousted from the Zion Wildlife Gardens by his mom.
2007 Private Possession of Dangerous Exotics Banned
FL: 6/29/07 Governor Crist, the people’s governor, signed into law SB2766 a bill to regulate the possession of reptiles, but more importantly, included the requirement for a $10,000 bond to be posted by anyone exhibiting a Class I animal, which currently includes, lions, tigers, leopards and jaguars and by 2008 is expected to include cougars. On 12/6/07 the FWC drafted rules to implement the new law. More HERE
8/10/07 The Captive Wild Animal Technical Assistance Group made their recommendations to the Florida Wildlife Conservation Commission staff and you can read that HERE On 12/6/07 the FWC announced that by mid 2008 they will address such issues as: Neighbor notification in the event of an escape, neighbor notification before bringing dangerous wild animals into an area to live, re classifying the cougar from a pet to a Class I animal, public contact, defining sanctuaries, defining what constitutes a commercial use to crack down on Class I animals that are owned as pets under the guise of being a business, ending Internet hunting and transportation of dangerous animals.
IA: 5/17/07 Iowa bans Internet Hunting and on 5/27/07 Iowa made it illegal for a person to privately own or possess a dangerous wild animal and it is now illegal to breed or transport them into Iowa. Exotic pet owners won’t have to give up their pets because the bill doesn’t apply to animals currently owned by Iowans. However, the bill requires owners to register their dangerous wild animal. The animals must be listed with the state an electronic identification device must be attached or embedded into the animal.
IL: 5/25/07 The Illinois governor signed into law a bill banning the practice of killing live animals over the Internet.
KY, Eddyville: 2/16/07 Eddyville City Council adopted an exotic animal ordinance at a special meeting Monday night. The ordinance outlaws owning any exotic animal in the city. Prohibited animals include snakes, big cats such as lions, tigers or leopards,
elephants, venomous rear-fanged species, alligators and gorillas as well as several other specifically named animals. The ordinance does not apply to any zoological garden accredited by the American Association of Zoological Parks and Aquariums, licensed theatrical exhibits, carnivals or circuses or any authorized wildlife rehabilitator or licensed veterinary hospital. Violators will be subject to a fine of not less than $500 nor more than $5,000, plus legal costs and attorney fees incurred by the city. The purpose of the ordinance is “to promote the public health, safety and general welfare” of city residents.
LA: 7/11/07 The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries enacted regulations that prohibit private possession of lions, tigers, jaguars, leopards, cheetahs, cougars and their hybrids as pets. People who legally had these animals as of August 15, 2006, when a state law requiring regulation of the animals took effect, can keep them but not breed or replace them. They must apply for permits and meet standards for cages, insurance, and microchips. The animals must be kept in safe and sanitary conditions. They cannot be taken from the premises except to receive medical care.
NY: 6/13/07 Assembly Bill 2612 and Senate Bill 784 passed by 2 to 1 margin to prohibit the taking of non-native big game mammals in fenced or other areas from which there is no means for such mammals to escape. This landmark legislation ends the unethical shooting of exotic animals held captive in fenced enclosures, otherwise known as “canned shoots” in New York.
SC, Chester County 3/19/07 passed an exotic animal ban. Because SC has no state wide ban in place, many counties have passed their own ordinances either banning or strictly regulating exotic animal ownership. York County has an ordinance banning exotic animals. Lancaster County has banned them as well, as has Fairfield County. Lexington County outside Columbia has a ban, as does the town of Mount Pleasant. Beaufort County has a ban as well. Lexington County’s ordinance is just one page. It lists several types of “exotic animals” from lions and tigers and other big cats, to reptiles, bears, elephants and gorillas. Lancaster County’s ordinance bans exotic animals, saying “no person, firm or corporation shall keep or permit to be kept on their premises any exotic animal as a
pet for display or for exhibition purposes.” More…
TX, Kaufman County: 3/22/07 Owners of lions and tigers and bears can forget about moving to Kaufman County. County commissioners voted 3-1 Monday to allow the five known owners of exotic animals in the county to continue keeping the animals but banned any others. Commissioner Jim Deller cast the lone “no” vote. He wanted a complete ban. “I don’t want to see those kinds of animals in the county if we can prevent it,” Mr. Deller said. “All the counties around us have banned them, except for zoos.” A “dangerous wild animal” law that the Legislature passed in 2001 gave counties the choice of banning the animals or registering them. The vast majority of counties banned the listed animals, including exotic cats, bears, coyotes, baboons, chimpanzees, gorillas and orangutans. The five entities granted the ability to continue their operations included Castle’s Bears, owned and operated by James Hall; Terranova Enterprises, owned and operated by Doug Terranova; PrideRock Wildlife Refuge; Zoo Dynamics, operated by Marcus Cook; and Corey and Beth Junell. With the vote, commissioners effectively joined surrounding counties such as Ellis, Dallas, Collin and Van Zandt in banning such animals. Zoo Dynamics, in a separate decision by the State’s Attorney’s office, was forced to give up his non profit status and fined 10,000, with a subsequent fine of 100,000 if found guilty of illegally soliciting donations again.
TX, Lake Jackson: 2/7/07 voted to deny a proposed exhibit by Wynnewood, Okla.-based G.W. Exotic Animal Memorial Park at Brazos Mall. A PeTA investigation conducted last year at GW documented dead, dying, and injured animals; a serious lack of basic necessities such as food, water, and veterinary care; cramped cages; and untrained, insufficient staff who were intentionally cruel to animals. PETA’s investigator witnessed a suffering lion whose leg had been torn off by tigers and tigers who were hit with a rifle butt. Two healthy adult tigers were killed, and their teeth were reportedly cut out to be given away as gifts. In January 2006, GW was placed on an 18-month probation and paid a $25,000 fine to settle U.S. Department of Agriculture charges that included dangerous animal-handling practices, filthy transport conditions, and failure to provide drinking water.
UT, American Fork: Banned the keeping of exotic animals, such as lions, tigers, bears, porcupines and pythons, which are not allowed in the city except in circuses, laboratory experiments, zoos and a few other facilities. The city chose to do this BEFORE it became a problem.
WA: In April 2007 HB 1418 was passed and will be enforced as of July 2007 that bans the possession, breeding and contact with all big cats including cougars and cheetahs. AZA zoos and sanctuaries that fit their description are exempt. More HERE
WI, Mayville: 2/13/07 Mayville, WI passed an ordinance prohibiting residents from keeping wild and exotic animals. The Common Council voted 5 to 1 to approve the wild and exotic animal ordinance after adding two amendments regarding exceptions. They are municipal zoos or those accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums; and traveling or fair exhibitions and petting zoos licensed under the federal Animal Welfare Act and by the USDA.
USDA Actions: On April 6, 2007 the USDA finally, permanently revoked the license of Lorenzo Pearson of L & L Exotics. More HERE.
8-12 Window inadvertently created: USDA adopted a policy stating the baby big cats under the age of 8 weeks and (by some inspector’s interpretations) over the age of 12 weeks could not be handled by the public. They also define a big cat as lions, tigers, jaguars, leopards, cougars, cheetahs, and any hybrids thereof. Because many places will make you a volunteer for the day to circumvent the rule that prohibits contact with big cats by the public, USDA has defined what is and is not considered a member of the public. Public feeding of big cats has been barred as well, with the exception of a process by which food is sent down a chute, past an external barricade. More HERE.
USDI Actions: The USDI finally rendered their final rules to enforce the Captive Wild Animal Safety Act which became law in 2003 but has been unenforceable for the past 4 years due to the government’s failure to draft these rules. Read the Captive Wild Animal Safety Rules here.
CITES met in June 2007 and upheld a ban on the trade in bobcat fur and all 171 countries railed against China’s proposal to farm
tigers for their parts because the legal trade would be the death blow to the wild populations since it is much cheaper to poach a tiger than farm one.
VANCOUVER, B.C. 2/3/07:Vancouver City Council has unanimously passed a motion banning people from keeping certain exotic
and wild animals as pets and banning businesses from selling them. They’ve also requested Mayor Sam Sullivan write a letter to the Union of BC Municipalities to consider a Province-wide ban. Banned animals include such creatures as bears, large constrictor snakes, hyenas and alligators. Businesses will be prohibited from selling everything from elephants and birds of prey to venomous insects. Council has also approved banning the use of exotic and wild animals in performances and shows. Read it here…
Ontario Canada: 2/14/07 Huntville council upheld a ban on dangerous exotic animals.
The Jewish Community 2/28/07 speaks out against wearing fur. “Jews must not wear fur skinned from live animals,” Israel’s chief rabbi said in a religious ruling on Tuesday. “All Jews are obliged to prevent the horrible phenomenon of cruelty to animals and be a ‘light onto nations’ by refusing to use products that originate from acts which cause such suffering,” Rabbi Yona Metzger said.
Europe: On 10th October 2007, 25 Non-Governmental Organizations representing 20 European countries, together with Members of the European Parliament and officials from the European Commission, attended a Reception at the European Parliament in support of animal welfare. The event saw the launch of an initiative to seek greater protection for wild animals kept in captivity in Europe at both a national and, where appropriate, pan-European level through enhancing the animals welfare provisions in the EC Treaty.
UK: November 21, 2007 an amendment to the Conservation Natural Habitats Regulations declared it is illegal to possess certain exotic animals, including the Wild Cat without a permit from Natural England, an agency that is not inclined to grant licenses to private individual animal keepers and who’s stringent licensing criteria are unlikely be met by most keepers.
2007 Circus Bans
Circus Bans: Bans on circus that use wild animals have been enacted in a number of North American cities, (28 as of June of 2007) including Stamford, CT; Boulder, CO and Burlington, VT. Bans are pending in the state of CT and in Minneapolis, MN. Prince George, B.C. 4/30/07 bans performances using exotic animals and joins 20 other B.C. communities with similar bans. Austria and 100+ cities in England alone already ban the use of wild animals in circus acts.
Croatia: 1/1/07 The new Croatian Animal Protection Act prohibits the use of wild animals in entertainment, such as circuses or other animal shows. Croatian authorities announced plans to ban holding of dolphin species in captivity, bringing Croatia closer to
a complete legal ban on dolphin capture.
Taiwan Bans Circus Animal Imports: 6/15/07 Importation and Exportation of protected animals including lions and tigers for circus acts is prohibited with fines up to $50.000. “The performances are negative education on environmental conservation. Personal pleasure must not be built on the suffering of other animals,” officials said.
Circus elephants get their day in court to establish what constitutes mistreatment of animals. See ASPCA & API vs Ringling. As of December 2008 this case still has not been heard.
2007 Hunting Bans
AK: Governor Sarah Palin signed House Bill 220 into law this week. Representative Bob Buch (D-27th) introduced the legislation which prohibits any person from engaging in or operating computer-assisted remote hunting in the state.
MA: Senate Bill 2273 (formerly S.B. 860 and S.D. 1452), introduced by Senator Robert Creedon, Jr. (D-2nd), makes it illegal to participate in or facilitate the killing of an animal via the Internet. Governor Deval Patrick signed the bill into law 8/3/07.
NE: Legislative Bill 504, introduced by Senator Mick Mines (District 18), makes it a Class II misdemeanor to hunt through the Internet.
OR: Oregon passed a law based on Senate Bill 490 to ban the killing of live animals over the Internet. 34 states, including Texas, now ban the practice. Florida still allows this inhumane practice of shooting a live animal over the Internet. Oregon also passed Senate bill 572 to ban all canned hunts. The vote was 22 to 5. Fencing exotic mammals, feeding them by hand, and then shooting them, said Democratic co-sponsor Sen. Ryan Deckert, “is not Oregon.” California, Wyoming and Wisconsin already prohibit canned hunts. A Federal bill, HR 2711, to ban Internet killing was introduced in June of 2007.
2007 Other Good News for Big Cats
President Bush reauthorized the 1994 Conservation Act to protect African Elephants, Rhinos and Tigers.
2005-2007 Big Cat Bans Enacted
Just since 2005, Arkansas, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland & Washington have passed legislation banning the ownership of certain dangerous animals such as lions, tigers, bears, wolves and primates, leaving only 11 states with virtually no regulations whatsoever.
In 2006 60 state bills were passed to protect animals of all types and 11 bills that would have harmed animals were defeated.
Between 2001 and 2006 the number of hunters in the U.S. decreased by 4%. Now only 5% (12.5 million people over the age of 16) are hunters. During the same time, the number of wildlife watchers, feeders and enthusiasts rose 8%.
FAMILY MEMBER: Kristi Stanton poses with a picture of her ball python, Saphire, Monday evening after making an unsuccessful request to council for an exemption to its new exotic pets bylaw. Huntsville council turned down two applications for exemptions to its new exotic pets bylaw Monday night. Kristi Stanton and Chris Chapman made deputations to council requesting a bylaw exemption for their ball python and two cougars respectively. Since the bylaw took effect in November, both Stanton’s snake and Chapman’s cougars have been living outside of the municipality. “Obviously, it is a regulation that hasn’t been in place very long and I, on a personal basis, understand your attachment to your animals and the difficulty that this particular bylaw poses to you. Council has to balance that against the greater risk [these animals pose to the general public],” said Huntsville mayor Claude Doughty.
Chapman, who had been looking after the two cougars since they were babies, told council that domestic dogs are “more dangerous on average” than cougars. “Very seldom do captive cats do any harm to anybody. We have everything in place to secure homes for them. We are just asking for the OK from council,” said Chapman, who noted the close bond that had formed between himself and the cats. “To me, they are friendly cuddly kitties, but I know a lot of people don’t share that [view].” Prior to the bylaw passing, Chapman told council he had contacted Town officials, who told him that a grandfather clause, which would allow him to keep his cougars, might apply when the legislation passed.
However, according to Sara Brown, the Town’s director of physical services, the Town can opt to grant a grandfather exemption but is not required to do so. Stanton, whose ball python Saphire currently resides with a friend, told council that she thought not enough background information was gathered for the bylaw’s creation. “I almost feel like not enough research was done on the sub-species of boas and pythons,” Stanton told council. “I am confused how you can still own a corn snake or a rat snake which can grow significantly bigger than a ball python and it eats exactly the same things.”
Despite this, Town staff and councillors continued to question the safety risks exotic animals kept as pets posed to the public at large. “The rationale behind any kind of bylaw like this is not to protect someone like yourself, who may be a responsible kind of individual with this kind of animal, but more to protect somebody who may not be responsible,” said councillor Brian Thompson. Councillor Bill Beatty told council he felt that although owners may be comfortable housing their exotic pets, the animals could pose a great risk to safety officials in the case of a fire. “One of the other issues I brought up and I got a nod and a wink, so to speak, from the fire chief was the concern if in fact there was a fire in that building or some incident where you had firefighters crawling around in the dark, the last thing you want to do with a snake or anything is have it bite you on the head as you knock the cage over.”
Washington Senate passes House bill to ban private possession of dangerous exotic animals
April 4, 2007
OLYMPIA, Wash. — The Animal Protection Institute (API) and The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) commend the Washington state Senate for passing HB 1418, the “Dangerous Wild Animal Bill,” after seven years of debate. The two groups are co-sponsors of HB 1418, which prohibits the private possession of dangerous exotic animals such as cougars, tigers, bears, monkeys,
and dangerous reptiles.
“Washington is one of only 11 states with no laws regulating the private ownership of dangerous wild animals,” says Nicole Paquette, Director of Legal & Government Affairs for API. “Passage of this bill will put Washington state at the forefront of nationwide progressive animal legislation by boasting one of the best state laws in the country.”
“Today’s action by Washington lawmakers will protect public safety and the welfare of the animals,” says Jennifer Hillman, Washington State Government Affairs Coordinator for The HSUS. “Over the past seven years, incidents in Washington have ranged from attacks on people to abandonment of animals when owners can no longer care for them. Wild animals belong in the wild, not in basements or makeshift cages in people’s backyards.”
A recent investigation conducted by API examined both private owners and federally licensed facilities in Washington state and documented stories of serious, unreported attacks by animals; people, including children, being allowed direct contact with dangerous animals at USDA-licensed facilities, a violation of federal law; poor animal care conditions; and inadequate and unsafe barriers.
“We applaud the Washington state Senate for taking a strong stand on this issue and hope to see the state serve as a role model of progressive legislation other states will follow,” adds Paquette. Note: DVD b-roll and still images of exotic animals in Washington State available for download; email email@example.com
I, Richard Nafziger, Chief Clerk of the House of Representatives of the State of Washington, do hereby certify that the attached is HOUSE BILL 1418 as passed by the House of Representatives and the Senate on the dates hereon set forth.
Approved April 30, 2007, 2:12 p.m.
Governor of the State of Washington
April 30, 2007
Secretary of State
State of Washington
HOUSE BILL 1418
AS AMENDED BY THE SENATE
Passed Legislature – 2007 Regular Session
State of Washington 60th Legislature 2007 Regular Session
By Representatives Lovick, Campbell, Lantz, O’Brien, Upthegrove and
Read first time 01/18/2007. Referred to Committee on Judiciary.
1 AN ACT Relating to the keeping of dangerous wild animals; adding a
2 new chapter to Title 16 RCW; and prescribing penalties.
3 BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF WASHINGTON:
4 NEW SECTION. Sec. 1. It is the intent of the state of Washington
5 to protect the public against the serious health and safety risks that
6 dangerous wild animals pose to the community.
7 NEW SECTION. Sec. 2. (1) “Animal control authority” means an
8 entity acting alone or in concert with other local governmental units
9 for enforcement of the animal control laws of the city, county, and
10 state and the shelter and welfare of animals.
11 (2) “Potentially dangerous wild animal” means one of the following
12 types of animals, whether bred in the wild or in captivity, and any or
13 all hybrids thereof:
14 (a) Class mammalia
15 (i) Order carnivora
16 (A) Family felidae, only lions, tigers, captive-bred cougars,
17 jaguars, cheetahs, leopards, snow leopards, and clouded leopards;
18 (B) Family canidae, wolves, excluding wolf-hybrids;
p. 1 HB 1418.SL
1 (C) Family ursidae, all bears;
2 (D) Family hyaenidae, such as hyenas;
3 (ii) Order perissodactyla, only rhinoceroses;
4 (iii) Order primates, all nonhuman primate species;
5 (iv) Order proboscidae, all elephants species;
6 (b) Class reptilia
7 (i) Order squamata
8 (A) Family atractaspidae, all species;
9 (B) Family colubridae, only dispholidus typus;
10 (C) Family elapidae, all species, such as cobras, mambas, kraits,
11 coral snakes, and Australian tiger snakes;
12 (D) Family hydrophiidae, all species, such as sea snakes;
13 (E) Family varanidae, only water monitors and crocodile monitors;
14 (F) Family viperidae, all species, such as rattlesnakes,
15 cottonmouths, bushmasters, puff adders, and gaboon vipers;
16 (ii) Order crocodilia, all species, such as crocodiles, alligators,
17 caimans, and gavials.
18 (3) “Person” means any individual, partnership, corporation,
19 organization, trade or professional association, firm, limited
20 liability company, joint venture, association, trust, estate, or any
21 other legal entity, and any officer, member, shareholder, director,
22 employee, agent, or representative thereof.
23 (4) “Possessor” means any person who owns, possesses, keeps,
24 harbors, brings into the state, or has custody or control of a
25 potentially dangerous wild animal.
26 (5) “Wildlife sanctuary” means a nonprofit organization, as
27 described in RCW 84.36.800, that cares for animals defined as
28 potentially dangerous and:
29 (a) No activity that is not inherent to the animal’s nature,
30 natural conduct, or the animal in its natural habitat is conducted;
31 (b) No commercial activity involving an animal occurs including,
32 but not limited to, the sale of or trade in animals, animal parts,
33 animal byproducts, or animal offspring, or the sale of photographic
34 opportunities involving an animal, or the use of an animal for any type
35 of entertainment purpose;
36 (c) No unescorted public visitations or direct contact between the
37 public and an animal; or
38 (d) No breeding of animals occurs in the facility.
HB 1418.SL p. 2
1 NEW SECTION. Sec. 3. (1) The provisions of this chapter do not
2 apply to:
3 (a) Institutions authorized by the Washington department of fish
4 and wildlife to hold, possess, and propagate deleterious exotic
5 wildlife pursuant to RCW 77.12.047;
6 (b) Institutions accredited or certified by the American zoo and
7 aquarium association or a facility with a current signed memorandum of
8 participation with an association of zoos and aquariums species
11 such as humane societies and shelters, housing an animal at the written
12 request of the animal control authority or acting under the authority
13 of this chapter;
14 (d) Animal control authority, law enforcement officers, or county
15 sheriffs acting under the authority of this chapter;
16 (e) Veterinary hospitals or clinics;
17 (f) A holder of a valid wildlife rehabilitation permit issued by
18 the Washington department of fish and wildlife;
19 (g) Any wildlife sanctuary as defined under section 2(5) of this
21 (h) A research facility as defined by the animal welfare act, 7
22 U.S.C.A. 2131, as amended, for the species of animals for which they
23 are registered. This includes but is not limited to universities,
24 colleges, and laboratories holding a valid class R license under the
25 animal welfare act;
26 (i) Circuses, defined as incorporated, class C licensees under the
27 animal welfare act, 7 U.S.C.A. 2131, as amended, that are temporarily
28 in this state, and that offer performances by live animals, clowns, and
29 acrobats for public entertainment;
30 (j) A person temporarily transporting and displaying a potentially
31 dangerous wild animal through the state if the transit time is not more
32 than twenty-one days and the animal is at all times maintained within
33 a confinement sufficient to prevent the animal from escaping;
34 (k) Domesticated animals subject to this title or native wildlife
35 subject to Title 77 RCW;
36 (l) A person displaying animals at a fair approved by the
37 Washington department of agriculture pursuant to chapter 15.76 or 36.37
38 RCW; and
p. 3 HB 1418.SL
1 (m) A game farm meeting the requirements of WAC 232-12-027(1).
2 (2) This chapter does not require a city or county that does not
3 have an animal control authority to create that office.
4 NEW SECTION. Sec. 4. (1) A person shall not own, possess, keep,
5 harbor, bring into the state, or have custody or control of a
6 potentially dangerous wild animal, except as provided in subsection (3)
7 of this section.
8 (2) A person shall not breed a potentially dangerous wild animal.
9 (3) A person in legal possession of a potentially dangerous wild
10 animal prior to the effective date of this act and who is the legal
11 possessor of the animal may keep possession of the animal for the
12 remainder of the animal’s life. The person must maintain veterinary
13 records, acquisition papers for the animal, if available, or other
14 documents or records that establish that the person possessed the
15 animal prior to the effective date of this act, and present the
16 paperwork to an animal control or law enforcement authority upon
17 request. The person shall have the burden of proving that he or she
18 possessed the animal prior to the effective date of this act.
19 NEW SECTION. Sec. 5. (1) The animal control authority or a law
20 enforcement officer may immediately confiscate a potentially dangerous
21 wild animal if:
22 (a) The animal control authority or law enforcement officer has
23 probable cause to believe that the animal was acquired after the
24 effective date of this act in violation of section 4 of this act;
25 (b) The animal poses a public safety or health risk;
26 (c) The animal is in poor health and condition as a result of the
27 possessor; or
28 (d) The animal is being held in contravention of the act.
29 (2) A potentially dangerous wild animal that is confiscated under
30 this section may be returned to the possessor only if the animal
31 control authority or law enforcement officer establishes that the
32 possessor had possession of the animal prior to the effective date of
33 this act and the return does not pose a public safety or health risk.
34 (3) The animal control authority or law enforcement officer shall
35 serve notice upon the possessor in person or by regular and certified
36 mail, return receipt requested, notifying the possessor of the
HB 1418.SL p. 4
1 confiscation, that the possessor is responsible for payment of
2 reasonable costs for caring and providing for the animal during the
3 confiscation, and that the possessor must meet the requirements of
4 subsection (2) of this section in order for the animal to be returned
5 to the possessor.
6 (4) If a potentially dangerous wild animal confiscated under this
7 section is not returned to the possessor, the animal control authority
8 or law enforcement officer may release the animal to a facility such as
9 a wildlife sanctuary or a facility exempted pursuant to section 3 of
10 this act. If the animal control authority or law enforcement officer
11 is unable to relocate the animal within a reasonable period of time, it
12 may euthanize the animal.
13 (5) An animal control authority or law enforcement officer may
14 euthanize a potentially dangerous wild animal under this section only
15 if all known reasonable placement options, including relocation to a
16 wildlife sanctuary, are unavailable.
17 (6) This section applies to animal confiscations on or after the
18 effective date of this act.
19 NEW SECTION. Sec. 6. A city or county may adopt an ordinance
20 governing potentially dangerous wild animals that is more restrictive
21 than this chapter. However, nothing in this chapter requires a city or
22 county to adopt an ordinance to be in compliance with this chapter.
23 NEW SECTION. Sec. 7. A person who violates section 4 of this act
24 is liable for a civil penalty of not less than two hundred dollars and
25 not more than two thousand dollars for each animal with respect to
26 which there is a violation and for each day the violation continues.
27 NEW SECTION. Sec. 8. (1) The animal control authority and its
28 staff and agents, local law enforcement agents, and county sheriffs are
29 authorized and empowered to enforce the provisions of this chapter.
30 (2) If a locality does not have a local animal control authority,
31 the department of fish and wildlife shall enforce the provisions of
32 this chapter.
33 NEW SECTION. Sec. 9. If any provision of this act or its
p. 5 HB 1418.SL
1 application to any person or circumstance is held invalid, the
2 remainder of the act or the application of the provision to other
3 persons or circumstances is not affected.
4 NEW SECTION. Sec. 10. Sections 1 through 9 of this act constitute
5 a new chapter in Title 16 RCW.
Passed by the House April 16, 2007.
Passed by the Senate April 3, 2007.
Approved by the Governor April 30, 2007.
Filed in Office of Secretary of State April 30, 2007.
Prince George, B.C. bans exotic animal performances in circuses and shows ( 20 B.C. municipalities are going this route although Vancouver is taking it one step further and prohibiting the ownership of exotic animals.) Monday, April 30, 2007 10:21 PM
Prince George City Council has decided the days of the performing tigers and elephants are numbered.
It was June of last year that City Councilors asked staff to prepare a report on how the City could deal with a request from the BC SPCA that all circuses using exotic animals be banned from Prince George. Well, the Jordan Circus has been booked for Prince George, and the Jordan Circus uses elephants and tigers. The report before Council says if the City bans such circuses, then $10 to $15 thousand dollars will be lost in booking revenue. The Jordan Circus has already signed a contract to appear in Prince George this July. That contract would be honoured regardless of Council’s decision.
There were four options presented to Council:
Continue to allow them and let the BCSPCA carry out the inspections to ensure the animals are allright ( that’s how Edmonton deals with it) Draft a bylaw prohibiting exotic animal performances in circuses and shows ( 20 B.C. municipalities are going this route although Vancouver is taking it one step further and prohibiting the ownership of exotic animals.) By policy, refuse to rent civic facilities to such circuses, although nothing would prevent a private land owner from providing a site Have a resolution sent to North Central Municipal Association and the Union of BC Municipalities calling for a Provincial ban on a standardized list of exotic animal performances. Council Don Zurowski moved that Council adopt option 2.
Bylaw Officer Ken Craig told Council his office has not received any complaints about cruelty or mistreatment of animals. “It is progressive and its the right thing to do” says Councilor Brian Skakun. Councilor Deborah Munoz says the City shouldn’t allow any kind of show that caused any mistreatment of any animal exotic or not. Councilor Murry Krause, says “Caging wild animals is archaic, and its time we show how progressive Prince George really is.”
Councilor Sherry Sethen “There are things that cause animals some stress, and I would suggest that as we move forward we will be challenged by others in the community and I would hope we stand firm and not change our minds”. Councillor Glen Scott “We always have these groups come forward saying why this should take place, and its a backward step just regimenting another part of our lives.” Scott was the only one to vote against the development of the bylaw.
Kathy Travers, an animal welfare activist, and one of the directors of the local branch of the BC SPCA had pushed for such a bylaw for years. When the vote was complete, a jubilant Travers wept with joy.
Thanks to all of you who wrote letters to your Florida legislators about the Python Bill it has passed both the Senate and the House unanimously and is scheduled to go into effect July 1, 2007.
While snakes are a little off topic for Big Cat Rescue, the reason this bill was so important is that it will also require people in Florida who exhibit Class I animals, for compensation or not, to either carry 2 million dollars in liability coverage or post a $10,000.00 bond with the Florida Wildlife Conservation Commission. Class I animals include tigers, lions, leopards, jaguars, bears and next year will hopefully include cougars. If people are going to be allowed to keep these dangerous animals, they should be held accountable for any damage they do through the owner’s negligence.
This bill will also enable the FWCC to move more quickly to shut down dangerous and abusive situations because it spells out what constitutes a violation and what the penalties are. It also provides a cushion of funds, provided by the exhibitor’s mandatory contribution to the bond, so that the FWCC can afford to step in and feed and relocate Class I animals that are in crisis.
Perhaps even more important is the fact that this will stop a lot of low-life-types from bringing their baby tiger photos booths to Florida
and will dry up the market for baby big cats to be used in practices that are unsafe for the public and unkind to the cats. Thanks again for writing letters to your legislators. It really made a difference! Now you can help us stop the exploitation of contact with big cats at a Federal level. Haley’s Act has been introduced in Congress and is picking up momentum with every letter you write. Visit www.CatLaws.com now to send your letter and save thousands more of these wonderful lions, tigers and other big cats from lives of exploitation, abuse and abandonment.
Taiwan bans circuses from importing protected animals
Jun 15, 11:04 AM ET
TAIPEI (AFP) – Taiwan’s parliament has amended a law to ban circuses from importing or exporting protected animals in an effort to improve protection of animal rights, a legislator said Friday. Under the revised Wildlife Conservation Law passed late Thursday, all imports and exports of animals such as lions, tigers, elephants and monkeys are prohibited unless they are needed for research, said Tien Chiu-chin, of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party, who proposed the bill. The new law categorizes the banned animals in line with the requirements of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).
Previously circuses were permitted to import animals for performances. The new law does not apply to animals already owned by circuses. “The performances are negative education on environmental conservation. Personal pleasure must not be built on the suffering of other animals,” Tien said. The amendment, which will become effective in two weeks, also imposes tougher punishment for animal abuse with a maximum one-year prison term for harassing, hurting or abandoning animals that results in their death or serious injury. Under current legislation animal abusers face fines of between 10,000 and 50,000 Taiwan dollars (303-1,515 US).
2003 Federal Ban on Selling Big Cats as Pets Across State Lines Passes
This one bill has saved thousands of big cats from being bred for sale as pets across state lines. It passed in December 2003 and was called the Captive Wildlife Safety Act. The flaw in the bill is that it exempts USDA licensees, and it is only $40 and a one page application to get a USDA license. Work is being done to eliminate the huge loop hole caused by this exemption. More about the number of abandoned big cats here.
This brochure wasn’t found until 2016, but it was interesting to see that USDA opposed the private possession of big cats as far back as 2000. See USDA brochure.
According to this release the USDA’s Animal Care specialists are adamantly against private ownership of big cats by the general public, and they give some great reasons for it. Here are a few quotes:
“AC personnel have seen too many instances where wild and exotic cats kept by untrained people have not only harmed people but suffered themselves due to poor care.”
“Because of these animals’ potential to kill or severely injure both people and other animals, an untrained person should not keep them as pets. Doing so poses serious risks to family, friends, neighbors, and the general public. Even an animal that is friendly and loving can be very dangerous. In AC’s experience, unsuspecting children and adults have been seriously injured or killed, even when the animals involved were “only playing.”
“The average person lacks the specialized equipment and expertise to provide properly for the containment, medical care, husbandry, and nutrition of a large wild or exotic cat. AC has seen this lack of expertise result in the unnecessary suffering and premature death of animals.”
“Large wild and exotic cats obtained as pets are usually acquired as appealing cubs, but when the animals are fully grown, owners often become dismayed at the high cost and difficulty of providing for their upkeep… …Placement of these unwanted animals is difficult because most zoos are unwilling to take them and few sanctuary facilities exist. Many of these cats end up being killed for their pelts and meat.”
Of course, these are the same things that Big Cat Rescue has been preaching about since the 1990s, but hearing it from an official government agency might help convince people that this is a real problem, not just some made-up animal rights crusade.
FunFest Productions, Inc is an event production company in Michigan that had regularly brought Marcus Cook’s atrocious “White Tiger Discovery” sideshow to their music festivals and carnivals over the past few summers. The advertisements for one of their upcoming 4th of July festivals advertised the tigers as “back by popular demand”, so Big Cat Rescuers emailed the company explaining why this wasn’t a good idea. It turns out we had nothing to worry about — the company canceled the white tiger exhibit a month ago, likely after complaints. What’s more, they’ve put a new corporate policy on their website banning all exotic animal acts in the future, making them a big front-runner, in our opinion, for responsibility. It reads:
“FunFest Productions, Inc. prohibits the exhibition of inherently dangerous wild animals at its events. Animals such as elephants, tigers, lions, bears, primates, and reptiles may pose a potential safety hazard to the public and the use of wild and exotic animals in traveling shows raises concerns about their welfare. FunFest Productions, Inc. is committed to supporting the humane treatment of animals and ensuring the comfort and enjoyment of our guests.”
More and more event companies seem to be moving in this direction every year as they find out that having lions and tigers doesn’t necessarily bring more “fun” to their event, but more controversy and liability. Between this new commitment, the new USDA regulations on captive tigers and cub-petting, and the long-awaited shutdown of Tiger Temple, it seems like captive tigers are having a pretty good year so far.
The photo above was not at a FunFest Production event, but rather is typical of these types of fairs.
More than can be included in this article, but here are two of the differences that are most important to saving big cats.
Origins of AZA vs ZAA
The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) was founded in 1924. The Zoological Association of America (ZAA) claims to have been founded in 2005, but appears to have just been an idea that never really took off until the Lowry Park Zoo, under leadership of Lex Salisbury, lost its AZA accreditation in 2008. Online sources show that Salisbury had hosted the ZAA at the Lowry Park Zoo in 2007 and began using the zoo’s facilities to run the ZAA in 2008, presumably to maintain the appearance of being accredited by someone.
The Lowry Park Zoo was able to regain their AZA accreditation after firing Lex Salisbury in 2008 for his allegedly self serving trades of more than 200 of the zoo’s animals to his own privately held animal collection. As of 2013 Salisbury still serves on the ZAA board of directors.
The AZA has always been the gold standard for zoos, but has been challenged by the lack of public understanding of the meaning of accreditation. Much time and money has been spent on branding so that zoo-goers know if they are supporting a good zoo or a bad zoo. There has never been a serious threat to that branding until the ZAA began heralding themselves as an accrediting body. It isn’t that there is any real threat of competition between the two organizations; only a matter of confusion to the public. It is our belief that some of the current AZA zoos, who don’t like the more strict and humane standards being adopted by AZA, are choosing to be accredited by both ZAA and AZA so that when they lose their prestigious AZA accreditation they will be able to dupe patrons into thinking that ZAA is the same thing.
So how does the AZA differ from ZAA?
From our perspective, at Big Cat Rescue, the biggest difference is in their attitudes toward breeding and handling of captive big cats and their cubs.
The AZA only recommends breeding of exotic cats based upon their genetics which are managed by the Species Survival Plans. These SSPs are managed by experts for each species of animal. Matings are suggested based upon providing the most genetic diversity and healthy specimens. (ie: that is why the AZA does not condone breeding white tigers, white lions or other inbred animals) Each animal must have a pedigree that traces all the way back to their wild ancestors because many instincts are geographic and thus, if these animals are truly ever to enhance wild populations it is imperative that they are suitable for the areas to which they could one day be returned.
The ZAA promotes breeding of exotic animals by private owners of animals that cannot be traced back to the wild and thus could never serve any conservation value. Most of their board members appear to be private, backyard breeders. The ZAA states as its purpose, “Protect and defend the right to own exotic and domestic animals, both privately and publically…” and yes, they can’t even spell publicly.
The AZA does not promote big cats as pets and does not allow the public to handle their big cats; nor do they pimp out the cubs for photo and handling sessions. A few AZA facilities still allow public contact with cheetah, but after several recent maulings by cheetah, we believe that practice will soon go the way of the Dodo.
All you have to do is take a look at the list of ZAA accredited facilities to see that it is rife with facilities that pimp out lion and tiger cubs every few months for public contact. This is unsustainable and results in hundreds of big cats outgrowing their profitable cub stage only to end up being relegated to tiny jail cells, or worse.
He has been exploiting tiger cubs and charging the public to hold them for over a decade. In 2012, USDA filed a complaint against Larry Wallach for a litany of animal welfare violations, including failure to provide vet care to the cats and stressing out his tiger cubs with the constant cub handling.
He was set up at the Cacklebery Campground in New Smyrna Beach, FL with 2 young tiger cubs but after hearing from 1,495 of you, they asked him to leave!
They say he’s moved off their property and setting up shop on Main Street. We are trying to find out the owner of the property, so we can let them know that animal lovers hate this sort of abuse.
He’s preying upon the hundreds of thousands of visitors in the area for Bike Week. Florida Fish & Wildlife sent an investigator but unfortunately said what he’s doing is legal. But we know you agree with us that just because it’s legal does NOT make it right.
How can someone like Wallach with a long list of USDA violations dating back to 2008 STILL BE OPERATING AND EXPLOITING CUBS? How can USDA and the Florida Wildlife Commission look at the raw, oozing sore on the cub’s nose, from frantically dragging his face back and forth across the cage wire, and not treat it as a violation of the Endangered Species Act? It’s heartbreaking. But we CAN end this abuse with the passage of the Big Cat Public Safety Act.