When things go wrong (or perhaps as predicted), innocent tigers are either euthanized or confiscated and rehomed to a sanctuary for lifetime care. I recently had the pleasure of visiting Lions, Tigers, and Bears: a gorgeous wildlife sanctuary in San Diego, California run by Bobbi Brink, who received the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries Carole Noon Award for Sanctuary Excellence. Bobbi's facility provides accommodations for animals rescued from cruel private ownership, including leopards, tigers, lions, and bears. Her operation, like others around the country, is necessary to combat the reckless effects of both keeping big cats as pets and putting them on public display. The keeping and displaying of big cats is not only reckless because of the inhumane conditions in which the animals are kept, but also because of the threat to public health and safety (should any of these animals escape and/or attack). Sanctuaries such as these are needed because the keeping of exotic animals, especially big cats, continues unfettered across the country.
More than a decade ago, I was quite proud to have been involved in a legislative effort called the Captive Wildlife Safety Act, which was signed in 2003, to prohibit the interstate movement of big cats if they were destined for the pet trade. However, as is so often the case, the legislative progress for animals is incremental. While we were able to pass that law and can now verify that it has had an impact in reducing the wildlife trade in America, we also know that there is more to be done.
Born Free USA is involved in a new legislative effort to amend that law with a bill called the Big Cat Public Safety Act, which would shut down private breeding, possession, or public interaction with these big cats. At a briefing in the United States Congress, the bill's sponsor, Congressman Walter Jones Jr., said, "there's no reason that the Congress cannot pass this bill and send it to President Obama." Agreed.