Triumph for tigers

..and lions, leopards, cheetahs, jaguars, or cougars or any hybrids of such species.

In the spring of 2020, Tiger King appeared on Netflix. The show about the eccentric Joe Exotic and his -what he claims- largest collection of big cats in the US fascinated millions of people worldwide. The success also had a downside. The demand for exotic pets only increased and the show was more of an inspiration than a warning to some viewers. Fortunately, the United States now wants to end the suffering of thousands of lions and tigers in captivity.

In June 2020, the Big Cat Public Safety Act was proposed, no doubt due to the commotion that something like Tiger King was possible in America. This law bans private ownership of big cats (including hybrids), prohibits people from interacting with these wild animals, and requires registration to regulate the trade in live big cats and body parts. The bill’s proponent recently reported on Twitter that the US Senate unanimously supports the bill and that it is passed on to President Biden to sign. Once that is done, the law will come into force; a great victory for animal welfare and an example for the rest of the world.

Pablo Delgado, Head of Big Cats at AAP in Spain, is happy: “Even though this law is only about big cats and there is still a world to win in terms of animal welfare, it is a big step. The US is a big market for lions and tigers; there are almost twice as many tigers living there than there are left in the wild. You can pet cubs in many places, but as soon as animals are too big for that, they are dumped. Sold as pets or killed because they don’t make money anymore. This law says that people must keep a distance of 4.5 meters, so that business model will soon be illegal. This is a win-win for both animal welfare and public safety, because many accidents occur. We hope that Europe takes notice and see this as an example for future EU legislation. A European Positive List could ban the possession of all exotic animals that are unsuitable as pets, but bad parks that offer interactions with wild animals urgently need to be regulated too. Only improving welfare legislation in every area will bring the animal suffering that we face every day to an end.”

Photo: A team led by Pablo Delgado (r) takes tigress Luli out of a closed park. Previously, Luli was rented out for publicity and events. On top, Luli enjoying the outside enclosure at AAP in Spain.

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