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Invoking 'Tiger King,' House passes bill banning big cat ownership

December 4, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

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The House of Representatives on Thursday passed a bipartisan bill that would ban private ownership of big cats like lions and tigers, after the wildly popular Netflix docuseries "Tiger King" helped renew attention on the issue.

(CNN)The House of Representatives on Thursday passed a bipartisan bill that would ban private ownership of big cats like lions and tigers, after the wildly popular Netflix docuseries "Tiger King" helped renew attention on the issue.

The "Big Cat Public Safety Act" passed the House Thursday night on a 272-114 vote, with 48 Republicans voting with Democrats to approve the measure.

Democratic Rep. Mike Quigley of Illinois, the bill's main author, said the legislation's passage is "one step closer to ensuring these animals are treated humanely and to keeping the public safe from dangerous big cats. "

As Americans found themselves at home at the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, Netflix debuted "Tiger King" which centered around Joseph Maldonado-Passage -- who goes by the name "Joe Exotic" -- an eccentric keeper of big cats in Oklahoma.

Democratic Rep. Ed Case of Hawaii, a member of the House Natural Resources Committee, said Thursday the bill would stop animal abuse and "bad actors like those we saw on 'Tiger King. '"

On the House floor Thursday, Utah Republican Rob Bishop also argued that the bill "is not about protecting the public from big cats," but about "hurting small family-run zoos across the country. "

The "Big Cat Public Safety Act" has been endorsed by animal welfare groups like the Humane Society of the United States, but also has the support of some law enforcement organizations, including the Fraternal Order of Police.

"Passage of the Big Cat Public Safety Act by the U. S. House will help end the public safety hazards associated with private ownership, prohibit public contact based on snatching infant cubs from their mothers for 'pay to play' and selfie-taking operations, and cripple the shady networks that put these endangered animals at risk of being killed for the wildlife products trade.

Baskin, who has lobbied for the bill for years and owns Big Cat Rescue in Florida, celebrated the bill's passage, saying it will "protect the big cats from abuse, the public and first responders from injuries and death, and the tigers in the wild from extinction. " She urged the Senate to act quickly on the bill.

Big Cat Rescue told CNN on Thursday that an attack on a volunteer by a tiger at its facility only reinforced why the bill should be passed.

by summa-bot

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