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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
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!
Haley’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.
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
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
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.
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