Press Releases

Washington – Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) joined Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and a group of their colleagues to introduce two pieces of legislation – the Big Cat Public Safety Act and the Captive Primate Safety Act – to protect public safety and improve animal welfare. The Big Cat Public Safety Act prohibits the ownership of big cats, like lions and tigers, and makes it illegal for exhibitors to allow public contact with cubs. The Captive Primate Safety Act prohibits the sale or transportation of nonhuman primates for the exotic pet trade.

Both bills are endorsed by the Association of Zoos & Aquarium, the Animal Welfare Institute, the Humane Society of the United States, the Humane Society Legislative Fund, the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries, and Born Free USA, in addition to numerous law enforcement and conservation organizations. 

Big Cat Public Safety Act

Private ownership of big cats raises significant public safety, animal welfare, and conservation concerns. It is estimated that thousands of big cats – including lions, tigers, leopards, cheetahs, jaguars, and cougars – are privately owned and held captive in insecure and unsafe conditions. Cub-handling attractions and petting zoos cause irreparable harm to the cubs, which are often separated from their mothers at an extremely young age, and pose a danger to humans, who may be bitten or scratched. There have been more than 700 incidents in the United States involving big cats, including hundreds of human injuries, maulings and deaths.

The Big Cat Public Safety Act would prohibit the possession of big cats by unlicensed individuals. This bill also restricts direct contact between the public and big cats, including cubs.

The Big Cat Public Safety Act is co-sponsored by Senators Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.).

Captive Primate Safety Act

Nonhuman primates are highly intelligent and social animals. As a result, they suffer greatly when improperly held in captivity. The pet primate trade frequently separates young primates from their mothers at a very early age and owners keep them in small cages and relative isolation. As with big cats, even well-intentioned primate owners are not able to provide the specialized care that primates require. An estimate 300 people have been injured by primates held by private owners, including a well-known Connecticut resident, Charla Nash, who suffered extreme facial injuries after being attacked by her neighbor’s pet chimpanzee.  

The Captive Primate Safety Act prohibits the private ownership of nonhuman primates and the sale and transportation of these animals for the exotic pet trade.

The Captive Primate Safety Act is co-sponsored by Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Bernie Sanders (I-V.T.), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.).

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