You many have heard this term floating around this year…’Tiger King’. Who, or what, exactly is everyone talking about? Well, the ‘Tiger King’ is actually a zookeeper who is referred to most commonly as Joe Exotic, but his real name is Joe Maldonado-Passage, and he was the owner of Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park, which was located in Wynnewood, Oklahoma. This past year a documentary series was made consisting of 7 complete episodes that chronical this man; the title of the series is ‘Tiger King.’ But what is it that the viewing public has found so compelling about this man? Before we go any further, we should explain that the entire title of the documentary is as follows: ‘Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem, and Madness’. Sounds like a good place to start to me. The documentary, in its entirety can be found on Netflix, and it is one of America’s number one binging pleasures at this time. The title might have been the lure, but what, exactly, is keeping people tuned in?
To be exact, it’s the story…we think. Joe Exotic has made a claim: He says he is the nation’s most ‘prolific breeder of tigers’. The private zoo he owned was one of the largest private zoos in the United States, and yep, you guessed it…tigers lived there. While his personality and celebrity by themselves would have likely drawn a following without the tiger aspect, but the show also digs deep into the world of large cat breeding, which people find interesting, obviously. To get down to the nitty gritty, though, motley crew of characters aside, the guy is actually something of a scoundrel. Not only did he go to prison for trying to have the head of an animal rescue organization killed, but his cat breeding practices, and those of many others, have been brought into question. With all of that being said, it seems the government has a sparked interest in putting a kibosh on the practices in big cat breeding that are seemingly inhumane.
Introducing the ‘Big Cat Public Safety Act’
Regardless of who, or what, started the fire, something was sparked, and earlier this month a bill was passed which bans the private ownership of big cats as pets. It is being said that the release of ‘Tiger King’ is was actually motivated the House to act by passing this bill, which they had been tossing around for a time, according to EcoWatch. What does the ‘Big Cat Public Safety Act’ consist of? Let’s take a look. The bill, which passed the House 272 to 114, is actually called ‘H.R. 1380’. To be specific, the bill places limitations on who is actually permitted to breed big cats, as well as limiting ownership, sales, purchase, and the actual transport of all large cats, including leopards, tigers, and lions. Illinois state representative Mike Quigley (D) stated the following in a statement that was posted to his webpage: “Animals like lions, tigers, leopards, and pumas should not be exposed to miserable conditions so many of them in our country currently face. By passing the Big Cat Public Safety Act we are one step closer to ensuring these animals are treated humanely, and to keeping the public safe from dangerous big cats. It is my hope that the Senate will quickly bring this bill to the floor so we can get it signed into law before the year ends.” Quigley also tweeted regarding the passage of the bill by the House.
What Happens If It Passes Senate?
To break it down clearly for you, if the Big Cat Public Safety Act will make it illegal for private individuals to own such large felines. It would also ban the public from having the ability to come into direct contact with people in the general public. There will be exceptions made for wildlife sanctuaries, licensed doctors of veterinary medicine, the US Department of Agriculture, and universities, but there will of course be strict guidelines for all of these in place that they must follow in order to house and/or care for the cats, said CBS News.
What about those who already own big cats? Well, the good news is they are able to keep them, under certain conditions. For instance, they must have the animal registered, they may not allow for public viewing or visiting of the animal, and they may not use the animal for breeding purposes. If any owners are found to be in violation of any of the conditions of private ownership, they will be facing a fine of up to $20,000, as well as up to five years in prison. It is believed that the passage of this bill will bring about reform in the areas that suffered regarding private ownership, thus avoiding situations like those seen in ‘Tiger King’.
For the Best
While many may disagree with the imposition of such laws, the fact of the matter is that we live in a society that is civilized, and big cats are wild and dangerous, regardless of their upbringing or how tame they seem to be. Keeping the nature of these animals realistically in mind, and showing respect for it, will not only result in the best being done for the cat, but will also save human lives that would inevitably be harmed or even taken by the wild animals. Consider Siegfried and Roy and what happened there…if it could happen to them, it could happen easily to anyone who is not taking all things into consideration. Yes, it is probably the wisest decision to put such laws into place so that the animals can live natural, healthy lives, and so people can still enjoy them without putting themselves or their loved ones at risk. While I personally will never seek to own a lion, I believe that laws are in place for our good, and in this case, our best interests are being taken to heart. So, if you are a big cat lover, or own one of your own, be sure to go about things the right way from beginning to end…you be glad you did.