Recently, in Zanesville, Ohio, sheriff’s deputies armed with assault rifles
opened fire on dozens of “mature, very big, aggressive” lions,
tigers, cheetahs, and other animals after the owner—who opened the animals’
cage doors and left fences unsecured before killing himself—allowed the animals
to escape. The tragedy in Zanesville is far from an isolated incident. Since 1990, incidents involving big cats have resulted in more than 235 human injuries and
the deaths of more than 85 cats and more than 20 people. Fortunately, U.S. Rep.
Buck McKeon, R-Calif., has introduced House Resolution (H.R.) 4122, the Big
Cats and Public Safety Protection Act, a new bill that would mean
unparalleled improvements for large cats who are kept as “pets” in
the United States.
Recognizing that “the
private ownership of and commerce in prohibited wildlife species has a
substantial and detrimental effect on the health and general welfare of the
American people and on the species themselves,” this bill seeks to ban
private individuals from owning and breeding large cats. Today, there are no federal regulations mandating minimum standards of care for the approximately 20,000 big cats who—having grown from
cute cubs into unruly, inherently dangerous predators—are confined to tiny,
barren backyard cages and left to languish or for those who are sold on the
black market for their bones and other body parts.
Appallingly, even in states that already have laws governing
the ownership of captive wild animals, animal abusers are able to evade
prosecution through loopholes that the Big Cats and Public Safety Protection
Act would close. This bill would not affect accredited zoos or legitimate large
cat sanctuaries but rather would address irresponsible private owners of large
cats and seek to minimize threats to public safety and animal health. Violators
would be subject to steep fines, jail time, and confiscation of animals.
This bill would also prohibit notorious traveling circuses
like Ringling Bros. and Barnum Bailey Circus from whipping and prodding
lions and tigers in order to make them hop on their hind legs and from
confining large cats to cages that are barely bigger than their own bodies as
they are hauled across the country in poorly ventilated semi-trucks.
For the animals’ sake, take a moment now to contact your federal representative and urge him or her to
co-sponsor H.R. 4122! You can find
your representative’s phone number here. If your representative is already a sponsor
of this bill (find out here), please take a moment to thank him or her for
making the compassionate decision to support this landmark legislation. If not,
let your representative know that you are a constituent and ask him or her to
sign on as a co-sponsor of H.R. 4122, the Big Cats and Public Safety Protection
Please follow up your call with a
brief e-mail (you can find your representative’s e-mail address here). Feel free
to use the form letter below, but personalized comments are always preferred. Don’t
forget to share this urgent alert with your friends and family!
Use this sample letter if
your legislator is Buck McKeon
Article source: PETA Action Alerts