Last week the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Big Cat Public Safety Act, which places a ban on the keeping of big cats as pets.
According to EcoWatch, it limits who is permitted to breed, sell, buy, transport, or own large felines like lions, tigers, and leopards.
There are currently roughly 10,000 big cats across the U.S. This includes around 5,000 captive tigers, which is more than there are in the wild.
The decision to pass this bill comes after the Netflix documentary series Tiger King was released last Spring which captivated the nation.
Big cats like lions and tigers don’t belong in apartments, backyards, or roadside zoos. The House is about to vote on the #BigCatPublicSafetyAct to put an end to private ownership of these wild animals. Watch my speech on the bill below ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/8Ng9wuEReE— Mike Quigley (@RepMikeQuigley) December 4, 2020
If the Senate passes the bill, not only will individuals be prohibited from owning large cats, but direct contact with the animals will also be banned.
Wildlife sanctuaries, colleges and universities, state-licensed veterinarians, facilities with a specific license from the Department of Agriculture, and a select few others will still be permitted to have big cats, reports CBS News.
Those who already own big cats before the bill passes may keep them but must register their animals and are prohibited from breeding them or allowing public access to them.
A fine of up to $20,000 and a prison sentence of up to five years is waiting for those who violate the law.