The Truth About Cub Petting

Popular tourism spots like Mexico and other tropical destinations often offer a tourist activity called “cub petting.” Tourists can pay to pet and take a picture with a lion cub or other baby big cat. People often think the organizations that offer these activities have rescued the animals and that the animals have a good and healthy life, but the reality is that these animals are often drugged to remain calm, are often abused, and then abandoned, sold to the exotic animal trade for body parts or even killed when they become too big, so that they can purchase another cub and start the profit-making all over again.

Bobbi Brink, Founder and Director of Lions Tigers and Bears, states, “Please don’t support these tourist opportunities. Even though it may look fun, paying money to these organizations provides more money to breed these animals that are not being properly taken care of and then killed or sold for nothing but profit.

Here’s what you need to know about cub petting:

* These exhibitors are NOT sanctuaries. A true sanctuary does not offer cubs for petting or photo opportunities. True sanctuaries do not buy, breed, sell or kill any animals, no matter what the circumstances.

* The cubs at these places have been taken away from their mothers at an early age. Often, they are torn away from their mothers shortly after birth, which is an imperative stage in a cub’s life.

* USDA regulations now state that there should be no public contact with cubs until they are at least 8 weeks old, when they receive their first round of shots. Additionally, cubs should not be around humans after they are 12 weeks old, because then they are considered dangerous. Often times, cubs are younger or older than required, which can spread disease or cause harm to humans.

* The exhibitors at these places will tell people they have no choice, that the only way they can make money is to offer the cubs for tourists. The reality is that no true animal lover would abuse animals for financial support.



Kansas SB 97, is a bill that has already passed the Senate and a hearing has been scheduled in the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee on Wednesday, March, 11th 2015. Ten years ago, after a teenager was killed while posing with a tiger for her senior pictures, Kansas stood up for public safety by banning  exhibitors from charging the public to pet, feed, pose and play with big cats such as tigers, lions, cougars and leopards. Now, the legislature is trying to undue this provision, but you can help stop it from being enacted!  You can help by writing to members of the Kansas House Committee urging them to oppose the amendments to SB 97, that will allow cub petting opportunities in the state of Kansas.

Here is a link with more info on the amendments being made to the bill:


Here is a sample letter to submit to members of the Kansas Committee of Natural Resources:

RE: Oppose SB 97

Dear House Committee member,

As a concerned citizen, it is with urgency that I am writing to you today to oppose the amendments made to SB 97 by the Kansas Senate Committee on Natural Resources.

Kansas took a step in the right direction by banning exhibitors from charging the public to pet, feed and handle dangerous regulated animals like tigers, lions, cougars and leopards. Undoing these provisions is a major step backwards and brings into question the matters of animal welfare and public safety within the state of Kansas.

Using cubs for public photo and play sessions is an extremely lucrative business that prolongs the exploitive cycle of breed, exploit and dump. These animals are bred and used for one sole purpose- as a profiting scheme – where the animals end up paying the ultimate price. Cubs are born and stripped from their mothers after just a few days of being born. They are then subjected to excessive handling, physical discipline, frequent interrupted rest, and improper nutrition during their most formative period of growth. When the animals grow too big to be handled they are simply discarded and more cubs are born into this endless cycle. There must always be a constant supply of cubs to fuel this lucrative business.

For the majority of these discarded cubs, their destiny is not so fortunate. They end up in roadside zoos and psuedo-sanctuaries where they do not receive proper care and are kept in cramped, unsanitary conditions. For others, they are sold into the exotic animal trade for their parts. Rarely, these discarded cubs end up at reputable sanctuaries where they are provided a lifetime home. If and when this is the case, it puts a substantial financial burden on these sanctuaries who take on the responsibility of lifetime care. A big cat can live upwards of 20 years in captivity, and basic care costs a minimum of $10,000 per year. It is a substantial undertaking that can be prevented by not having cubs born into this sick cycle in the first place.

Handling big cats, no matter the size is dangerous and an extreme threat to public safety. These animals are apex predators with innate wild instincts and lethal capabilities. I urge you to not take this step backward. Oppose SB 97 and prevent the public from handling these dangerous animals.

I whole heartedly oppose  the amended revisions to SB 97 and urge you to stop them from being passed.  You have the ability to keep your constituents safe and prevent tragedy from striking within the state of Kansas in the future. Oppose SB 97.


(Sign your name)


Please send your letter via email to the following:


Vice Chair

Ranking Minority Member