We’ve all seen them: pictures on social media of people hugging, feeding, or playing with tiger or lion cubs. The animals are adorable, and the people look like they’re enjoying themselves.
But Americans have increasingly come to understand that “cub petting” attractions like this are harmful to all involved—cruel for the cubs, and potentially dangerous for the people. To make things worse, these operations churn out older big cats who too often end up as pets loosely confined to neighborhood backyards and garages only to break free, generating still greater public safety and animal welfare concerns.
Fortunately, Pennsylvania prohibits the big cat interactive activities that produce these photos, and the nation might soon follow the commonwealth’s example. Last Friday, the U.S. House passed the Big Cat Public Safety Act, H.R. 263, by a strong bipartisan margin. The bill prohibits public contact with big cats and keeping these species as pets.
Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) is the co-lead sponsor of the bill with Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL). H.R. 263’s passage is a testament to Rep. Fitzpatrick’s commitment to the issue, borne in part from the unique comprehension of the stakes involved that his law enforcement background provides. The bill now goes to the U.S. Senate with real momentum behind it.
We call on Sens. Pat Toomey (R-PA) and Bob Casey (D-PA) to support the passage of this legislation and its enactment into law.
Sara Amundson, President
Humane Society Legislative Fund