Joe Biden inks bill to end 'Tiger King'-like big cat ownership after years-long campaign by Carole Baskin
WASHINGTON, DC: The Big Cat Public Safety Act, a bill to ban the private ownership of lions, tigers, and other big cats, was passed by President Joe Biden on December 20. The bill signed on Tuesday resulted from the 'Tiger King' star Carole Baskin's years-long campaign. The bill was passed by Biden with no public ceremony held, but there are speculations that the President might be hosting the campaign's advocate.
On December 7, with unanimous consent, the bill passed the Senate after clearing the House in July by 278-134, reports the New York Post. Prohibition of private owners owning new big cats comes under this legislation that requires existing owners to register their stocks.
The ban also includes forbidding public contact with six species namely lions, tigers, leopards, snow leopards, jaguars, and cougars directly. Zoos and sanctuaries like Baskin’s own Big Cat Rescue facility in Tampa are exempted under the legislation, according to the New York Post. The animal rights activist Baskin became popular after the release of a Netflix documentary series about her rival Joe Exotic, self-declared as 'The Tiger King'. Calling himself a “gay, gun-carrying redneck with a mullet,” Exotic is a country musician, and Oklahoma political candidate and is most known as a private zoo owner.
The campaigns by Baskin, CEO of Big Cat Rescue targeted the Tiger Kings' 'cub-petting' involvement in the industry to which Exotic struck by putting forth accusations against Baskin claiming that her former husband Don Lewis who disappeared in 1997 was given for feed to Baskin's own lions and tigers. The rage went to the extent where the businessman produced a music video titled 'Here Kitty Kitty' with a lookalike of the activist showing her feeding her animals with suspicious-looking meat. For criminal charges which include animal abuse at his Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park and a murder-for-hire plot, Exotic is currently imprisoned for a 21-year sentence.
“Apparently I am harder to intimidate and kill than some thought!” Baskin said over the victorious outcome of her campaign and she commented, "The passage of the bill is the successful culmination of many years of battling against narcissistic, abusive, dangerous men who dominated the cruel trade and did everything they could to stop its passage, including wanting to intimidate, discredit and even kill me.”
“Within a decade, most of the thousands of big cats living this way will have passed away, and in 20 years, no big cats will be living in this kind of misery,” she added, reports the New York Post.
As per the 'Tiger King' antagonists' Florida-based non-profit animal sanctuary, as of last year, only five states including Alaska, Hawaii, Louisiana, Oregon, and Washington have banned the private possession of big cats. There were no restrictions for commercial exhibitors or most allowed licenses for private ownership and four states including Alabama, Nevada, North Carolina and Wisconsin.