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Join the Big Cat Caucus

The Big Cat Caucus is a common sense, bi-partisan caucus dedicated to ending the needless tragedies that occur regularly in America due to the lack of regulation of the exotic pet industry.

Sign up with the form at lower left or E-mail the Big Cat at BigCat@BigCatCaucus.com to join.

Ban Big Cat Contact

In December 2007 the USDA commented favorably on Haley's Act and only cautioned that the bill should be made stronger.  Read the USDA's comments HERE  This bill can become law in 2008 with your help.  Send E-mail Now!

100lb tiger in classroomHaley’s Act is named after 17 year old Haley Hilderbrand who was mauled to death while posing with a 550 lb tiger for her senior photo at a USDA licensed facility.  There are more than 700 USDA licensed facilities housing more than 5,000 dangerous big cats.  Accredited zoos and sanctuaries account for less than 1/3 of the USDA licensed facilities, with the bulk of the remainder being backyard breeders, roadside tourist traps, flea market attractions and people who call themselves educators by charging a fee to bring a lion or tiger into a classroom or party. 

The cubs are used for photo ops, where a person pays to have their photo with a cub, or a fee is charged to pet them.  Many places claim to be sanctuaries or training facilities, but they make their money by charging the public to come bottle feed baby tigers.  Since the cubs quickly grow into dangerous predators, they are replaced every few months with a new litter.  There is no legitimate market for these grown cats who often end up in canned hunts, being killed for their fur or pieced out into the Asian medicinal trade.  The illegal portion of the 15 billion dollar trade in exotic animals is third only to the market for illegal drugs and weapons.

In November 2006 a 4 year old girl was mauled by a cougar that was brought to a birthday party for “edu-tainment.”   The cougar had the girl’s entire head in her mouth, bit through the eyelid and partially ripped off an ear.  Tigers, which can weigh 6 times more than cougars, are currently being brought into schools on leashes.  Since there is no law that prohibits this sort of reckless activity we are asking that you prevent another child from being injured or killed by promoting a law that would ban contact with dangerous big cats.

ABC’s Prime Time 20/20 recent aired an exposé’ based upon a new report called “Fatal Attractions” in which the International Fund for Animal Welfare did an 18-month investigation of 42 USDA-licensed facilities in 11 states. Prompted by over 780 big cat incidents and over sixty fatalities since 1990, the report clearly illustrates the necessity to ban contact with big cats. 

Haley’s Act would amend the Animal Welfare Act to include this clear rule:  “Direct public contact with large cats owned or held by an exhibitor or dealer licensed by USDA is prohibited”.  Large cats would be defined as: lions, tigers, leopards, jaguars, cougars, cheetahs, Siberian lynx and any hybrid of these species.  This language would include their cubs which are currently exempted by most state and federal laws. 

The international Species Survival Plans to breed captive cats for conservation purposes are all administered by accredited zoos, which would be exempt from Haley’s Act, so eliminating the commercial uses for the cubs outside of the accredited zoos would have no deleterious effect on the conservation of the species. 

Conservation education is very important but taking a wild animal to a party, classroom or flea market does nothing to teach compassion or respect for nature and those activities do not generate funds for protecting habitat. 

There is no reason for the public to have direct contact with an exotic cat.  This is a common sense, bi-partisan bill that would protect our citizens and especially our children and we need your help to make it a law this year.

Big Cat Stats

The following is a partial listing (544) of incidents in the U.S. involving captive exotic cats since 1990. The U.S. incidents have resulted in the deaths of 20 humans, 15 adults and 5 children, the additional mauling of 180 more adults and children, 146 escapes, the killing of 86 big cats, and 117 confiscations. There have also been 155 big cat incidents outside the U.S. that have resulted in the deaths of 59 humans and the mauling of 86 humans by captive big cats. These figures only represent the headlines that Big Cat Rescue has been able to track. Because there is no reporting agency that keeps such records the actual numbers are certainly much higher.

http://www.bigcatrescue.org/big_cat_news.htm

The Journal of Internal Medicine in 2006 estimated that 50 million people worldwide have been infected with zoonotic diseases since 2000 and as many as 78,000 have died. Read more about zoonotic diseases here: http://www.bigcatrescue.org/zoonosis.htm

To see the number of exotic cats abandoned each year go to http://www.bigcatrescue.org/animal_abuse.htm

To view a trend chart that shows the alarming escalation of big cat incidents click HERE.

The U.S. represents less than 5% of the entire global population, but up through 2006 79% of ALL captive cat incidents occurred in the U.S.  (Now that the US is clamping down on the exotic pet trade, the reports in 2007 show a decline in U.S. incidents compared to the rest of the world)  Likewise, Florida represents less than 6% of the U.S. population while 11% of all U.S. incidents occur in Florida.  Florida boasts the most comprehensive sets of regulations allowing private ownership of exotic cats while ranking #1 in the highest numbers of big cat killings, maulings and escapes.

 

New IFAW Report Uncovers Public Safety Dangers at Big Cat Facilities

Read it HERE

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