Statement on the Big Cat Public Safety Act

Today, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 263, the Big Cat Public Safety Act. This legislation will help prevent captive tigers from ending up in the illegal trade in tiger parts and products, which is a primary threat to the species in the wild. The bill will also help ensure the welfare of captive big cats, as well as public safety, by requiring facilities to obtain a federal permit for big cat ownership. Through these actions, information will be provided on who owns them, when they're sold or traded and what happens to their parts when they die.

In response, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) issued the following statement from Leigh Henry, director of wildlife policy:

“Across the country, thousands of tigers are held captive by private owners. The legislation passed today by the House opens the door to the kind of oversight needed to help protect these magnificent animals, as well as the communities in which they are being held.

“The current lack of consistency and information available to law enforcement increases the chances a captive tiger can slip off the radar and into the black markets that thrive on the trade of illegal wildlife and wildlife parts. By requiring a federal permit for big cat ownership, we’ll have better understanding of the state of captive tigers in the US and what happens to their parts when they die.

“We now look to the Senate to do its part to ensure this bill becomes law. Congress needs to send a message to the world, particularly to places in which tiger farms help fuel the illegal big cat trade -- like China, Lao PDR, Thailand and Vietnam -- that the US stands strong against wildlife crime.”