Originally Published in: Houston Chronicle
Published on: December 10, 2022
Written By: The Editorial Board
Thumbs Up: “Tiger King,” the Netflix documentary series that once boasted “murder, mayhem and madness” in episodes exposing the seedy, dangerous and abusive underworld of exotic animal exploitation, can now boast a more respectable claim to fame: catalyst for the long-sought passage of the Big Cat. Public Safety Act. A bill passed by the U.S. Senate and now headed to President Biden’s desk bans the private breeding and possession of lions, tigers, leopards and panthers by anyone not affiliated with a zoo, sanctuary or college. Current big cat owners can keep their animals provided they don’t breed them, allow public contact with them or fail to register them. Animal rights groups applauded the legislation, which may have an outsized impact in Texas, where exotic animal ownership is a concern illuminated locally by the story of India the Bengal tiger, who became an internet sensation after he was filmed roaming an upscale Houston neighborhood. He’s now living the good life at an animal sanctuary. “Texas has one of the highest populations of big cats in the country with numerous instances where these animals have escaped and injured and even killed people in our state,” Shelby Bobosky, who heads the Texas Humane Legislation Network, said in a press release. “Passing the big cat public safety act means less risk to our first responders and safer Texas communities for all of us.” She praised the support of the bill by Texas’ congressional delegation, including U.S. Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz. We can hear the big cats across Texas roaring in approval.
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