H.R. 1998

Tell Congress to Support the “Big Cats and Public Safety Protection Act” (H.R. 1998)

Bobbi Brink has witnessed first-hand the abuse and mistreatment of captive exotic animals and says, “I whole-heartedly lend my full and strong support to this landmark federal legislation, which will safeguard our children and communities, while protecting some of the most beautiful animals on earth that are cruelly exploited, abused and neglected. Mr. McKeon and Ms. Sanchez deserve our respect and sincere thanks for addressing this pressing and heartbreaking issue.”

  • There are as many as 10,000 big cats kept in private hands, but no one knows exactly how many and where.
  • The exact number is a mystery because few records are kept. What we do know is that these animals should never be kept as pets.
  • In the last two decades in the U.S., dangerous incidents involving big cats have resulted in 22 people being killed (including five children) and nearly 200 being mauled or otherwise injured. The numbers are likely higher as these are only the incidents widely reported by the media.
  • It costs at least $10,000 a year on average just to feed a big cat, and they need huge spaces to roam. Many big cat owners, even those with good intentions, quickly realize they are in over their heads.
  • Local law enforcement and other first responders are neither trained nor financially equipped to deal with animals the likes of a 300-pound tiger, and taxpayers must pay the cost when animals escape or otherwise jeopardize the community.
  • Furthermore, the USDA does not have the resources to adequately inspect big cat licensees and enforce Animal Welfare Act compliance.

Ask your representatives to co-sponsor the “Big Cats and Public Safety Protection Act” (H.R. 1998) today. Passing this bill would amend the Captive Wildlife Safety Act to generally restrict both breeding and keeping big cats (lions, tigers, leopards, cheetahs, jaguars, and cougars) as pets. Current owners of any of these big cats would just need to register them with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The bill would provide exemptions for zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), wildlife sanctuaries (that do not breed or allow public handling of their animals), wildlife rehabilitators, some research and education institutions, and some traveling circuses.

Unfortunately, reform came too late to Zanesville, Ohio. That’s where a backyard exotic animal owner released 38 big cats and 18 other dangerous animals and then took his own life. To protect the surrounding community, law enforcement had no choice but to kill most of the animals. We can’t stand on the sideline waiting for the next incident. Don’t let your neighborhood be next. You, your family, and these animals all deserve protection.

Passing this bill will finally mean that captive big cats – tigers, lions, cougars and other species – do not threaten public safety, diminish global conservation efforts, or end up living in deplorable conditions.

You can also use the sample letter below to send a follow-up note to Congress urging support for this bill. Please mail a copy of the letter below to your U.S. representative. You can find a list of U.S. representative mailing addresses here: http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/


Sample letter for representative:

Dear Congressman [or Congresswoman] _________,

As a constituent concerned about improving the lives of tens of thousands of Big Cats in the United States, I’m writing to urge you to support and co-sponsor HR 1998, the “Big Cats and Public Safety Protection Act.”

I strongly encourage you to do everything you can to help pass this critical legislation, which would prohibit the illegal trade of wildlife species and the private ownership or sale of exotic animals. Additionally, the bill would ban individuals from keeping the animals in poor living conditions and protect the public from dangerous situations.

I hope you will support and co-sponsor HR 1998. Thank you.


[Your Name & Address]