Tampa's Big Cat Rescue has been involved in the big cat coalition that was formed in July 2011 to address the big cat crisis in America. The coalition was a subset of a larger group, called the International Tiger Coalition, which was formed in 2008, to deal with the declining numbers of wild tigers. It became clear that the only way to save the wild tiger was to end the private possession of tigers as pets and ego props.
In the wake of yet another mauling at a private roadside zoo, dangerous incidents involving big cats continue to rise across the United States. The Big Cats and Public Safety Protection Act (H.R. 1998/S.1381), a Congressional bill initiated by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW - www.ifaw.org), would prohibit the private possession and breeding of tigers, lions and other big cats in the United States; and, according to a new poll released today by IFAW, 75 percent of voters across the country are in support of the bill.
The nationwide poll conducted by Beekeeper Group found that of the 16 percent of the voters who oppose the bill, more than half of these voters (57 percent) do so because they feel even more restrictions are necessary.
"The public has spoken," IFAW Campaigns Officer Tracy Coppola points out. "The tragedy at GW Zoological Park highlights the urgency for a nationwide solution to America's big cats crisis. Without a solid ban on keeping these wild animals as 'pets' and breeding them for exploitative roadside zoo exhibitions, life-threatening incidents will continue to put people, including first responders, at risk."
The patchwork of state laws that currently address keeping big cats as pets widely fluctuate, with some states banning the practice while exempting a host of USDA exhibitors, and others with partial to no restrictions at all.
Eight in ten voters surveyed in the recent poll do not believe people in this country should be allowed to keep lions, tigers and other big cats as pets.
Although divisional dynamics are plaguing the present Congress, the "big cats" concern has found widespread bipartisan support among the voters. The poll reveals that both Democrats and Republicans agree on this issue, with 80 percent of Republicans and 73 percent of both Democrats and Independents support the bill.
Coppola added, "IFAW urges Congress to respond to the vast majority of their constituents by passing the Big Cats and Public Safety Protection Act."
In the past two decades, big cat incidents have resulted in the deaths of 22 people including five children. In addition, reportedly over 200 humans have been mauled or injured.
About IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare)
Founded in 1969, IFAW saves animals in crisis around the world. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW rescues individual animals, works to prevent cruelty to animals, and advocates for the protection of wildlife and habitats. For more information, visit www.ifaw.org. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
SOURCE International Fund for Animal Welfare http://www.ifaw.org
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