A bill long supported by “Tiger King” star Carole Baskin officially received the backing of President Joe Biden’s administration Tuesday.
The “Big Cat Public Safety Act,” introduced by Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.) and Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), would forbid unlicensed individuals from owning big cats — like tigers, cheetahs and jaguars — and prohibit direct contact between the public and big cats, including cubs, according to a formal statement of administration policy released by the Office of Management and Budget Tuesday.
“The Administration supports H.R. 263, the Big Cat Public Safety Act, which would build on existing laws that protect big cats like tigers, cheetahs, jaguars, and other wild animals living in captivity in the United States,” the statement reads.
The lawmakers who introduced the bill cited the Netflix series “Tiger King” as helping to raise awareness about the dangers of private big cat ownership.
“The series showed the abysmal conditions big cats including tigers, lions, and leopards, as well as their cubs, live in throughout the United States, and the immense risks private ownership of these animals poses for the individuals who keep them, the general public, and the animals themselves,” reads an April 2021 statement from Blumenthal.
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Baskin, who rose to fame in March 2020 because of her role on “Tiger King,” has long supported the measure. A post shared Tuesday to the website of her organization Big Cat Rescue described it as the “most important big cat bill ever.” The group has called for a ban on cub petting for more than two decades, according to the New York Times.
“While some states have restricted or banned the private possession of certain wild animals, other states have virtually no regulations. The Big Cat Public Safety Act addresses this gap and prohibits the private ownership of big cats,” the Animal Legal Defense Fund wrote in a June statement. “Big cats belong in the wild or, in situations where captive animals can no longer safely be returned to the wild, in accredited sanctuaries equipped to meet their complex physical and psychological needs.
Republican Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Richard Burr of North Carolina, Democratic Sen. Tom Carper of Delaware and Republican Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania are co-sponsoring the bills in each chamber.