A Risk to People and Wild Tigers
The lack of regulation of captive tigers is a major threat to public safety. Lax oversight means tigers can be held in areas that may not be adequately secured.
Officials are rarely able to determine how many tigers there are in captivity within state borders—or where they are, who owns them, or what happens to their body parts—highly prized on the black market— when they die.
When tiger ownership and breeding aren’t monitored, captive tigers become easy targets for black market sales, and those sales end up threatening wild populations too. The illegal trade in products derived from captive tigers stimulates demand, especially for tigers in the wild. The greater the demand, the more wild tigers will be poached.
WWF Calls for a Ban on Private Ownership of Tigers
WWF and TRAFFIC were among the first to raise the alarm on the lack of captive tiger regulations in 2008. Since then we have called for a ban on private possession of big cats like tigers and lions and asked for those who currently require big cats be required to register these animals.
But the US is moving in the right direction. The Senate Environment and Public Works committee held a hearing on July 16, 2014 on the Big Cats and Public Safety Protection Act, which would greatly restrict private ownership of big cats in the US and prevent individuals from keeping them as pets. And earlier this year, President Obama announced the first ever National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking, which made wildlife crime a national priority for more than a dozen US federal agencies.