"Big Cat Public Safety Act"

HR 1818

SPONSOR: Rep. Jeff Denham
STATUS: Referred to Subcommittee on Federal Lands 4/11/17

S 2990

SPONSOR: Sen. Richard Blumenthal
STATUS: Referred to Environment and Public Works Committee 6/5/18

SPECIES AFFECTED: Prohibited Wildlife Species = lion, tiger, leopard, snow leopard, clouded leopard, cheetah, jaguar, cougar or any hybrid of such

: All

CLASSIFICATION: Ban – Breeding and Possession

DETAILS: Bans possession and breeding of prohibited wildlife species and defines breeding as to facilitate propagation or reproduction
(whether intentionally or negligently) [S 2990 does not include this] or to fail to prevent propagation or reproduction

Other – adds technical correction to update name of Fishery Conservation and Management Act of 1976 [only in S 2990]


  1. Class C Licensee which:
    • Does and has NOT employed any person for animal care convicted or fined for any abuse or neglect for any animal by state, federal or local law, nor had a license or permit suspended or revoked for animal care, possession, exhibition, breeding, or sale by such agency in the last 3 years
    • Does NOT allow direct public contact other than trained professional employee or contractor or someone in training OR veterinarian or vet student
    • Keeps all prohibited wildlife species except cheetah and clouded leopard [S 2990 – except cheetah or hybrids] 15 feet away from public unless there is a permanent barrier
    • Does NOT breed except for “species-specific, publicly available, peer-reviewed population management plan developed according to established conservation science principles"
    • Has $250,000 liability insurance for each occurrence of property damage, bodily injury, or death caused by such cats
    • Has written safe recapture or destruction plan in case of escape with protocols for training staff
  2. State college, university, or agency, or State-licensed veterinarian
  3. Wildlife sanctuary that is 501(c)(3) nonprofit and does NOT:
    • Commercially trade in prohibited wildlife species
    • Breed prohibited wildlife species
    • Allow direct contact between the public and prohibited wildlife species
    • Allow the transportation and display of prohibited wildlife species off-site
  4. Someone who solely expeditiously transports a prohibited wildlife species to an exempted entity

GRANDFATHERING: Those grandfathered must register the animals with the US Fish & Wildlife Service within 180 days AND must not breed, acquire, or sell any new ones AND must not allow public contact
[S 2990 does not have this]

ENFORCING AGENCY: US Fish and Wildlife Service

SEIZURE & FORFEITURE: Will be governed under current seizure and forfeiture laws for illegal imports, exports, transport, sale and purchases

PENALTIES: Removes from current civil and criminal penalties and creates own criminal penalty of up to $20,000 and/or imprisonment up to 5 years with each violation a separate offense and declared to be committed in each district taken to
[S 2990 adds "knowingly violates section 3(e)" to end of the criminal penalty subsection containing same penalty as above and updates listed penalty at end by removing knowing that such action was in violation of law, treaty or regulation and adding prohibited wildlife species]

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon enactment


Questions about Federal Legislation?


“The Captive Primate Safety Act”

Not yet introduced for 2017-2018

UAPPEAL has been opposing the Captive Primate Safety Act for the past 10 years.  By working with our federal lobbyist, we have been very successful at stopping this bill from becoming law.  The newer versions of the bill, have made many changes from past versions of the bill that will have an impact on a much wider base of exotic animal owners, both private and federally licensed. Because of the complex network of federal, state, and local laws and regulations that already govern the ownership of most wildlife species, even what appear on the surface to be minor changes to existing laws can have a catastrophic cascade of unintended consequences.

UAPPEAL Action on 2015-2016 Bill

During our September 15, 2015 trip to DC, we had several successful meetings with the staff of key legislators about the CPSA and explained our opposition to the bill.  We made new contacts and created allies to help us in our future work on this bill and all other bills such as the Big Cat and Public Safety Protection Act.  

Summary of Proposed Legislation:

The Captive Primate Safety Act is a proposed modification to the Captive Wildlife Safety Act (2003), which was an amendment to the Lacey Act (1900) that will broaden the list of prohibited wildlife species to include all non-human primates. The Captive Primate Safety Act would prohibit the importation, exportation, transportation, and sale, receipt, acquisition, or purchase in interstate or foreign commerce of all animals on the list of prohibited wildlife species in the Lacey Act.  Even though its name implies otherwise, the species covered by the Captive Primate Safety Act includes felines and bears, and these proposed changes expand the scope of the Captive Wildlife Safety Act from 8 to 510 impacted species.

The newest version of this bill also removes the exemption for USDA licensed individuals that were not affected by this bill in the past.  The Captive Primate Safety Act will adversely impact animal welfare, species survival, and will lead to unintended experiential and fiscal consequences that will negatively affect the operations of federally regulated businesses working with impacted species.

Newer versions of this bill have also removed our amendments that were accepted into the bill in 2008 for out-of-state vet care and to bequeath our animals to out-of-state caregivers in the event of the owners’ death.  Because the newest version of the bill has regressed to earliest versions we are basically starting over from scratch.

This bill would create hardships for the existing owners of all animals listed as prohibited wildlife species in the Lacey Act.  This bill does not allow for interstate travel for out-of-state vet care, to transport the prohibited wildlife species to a legally designated caregiver in the event of the death or illness of the owner, or in the case of an emergency such as an evacuation due to a tornado or hurricane. Owners would not be able to visit family members in another state and take their animals with them.

This bill would also restrict “public contact” with all animals listed as a prohibited wildlife species and there is no clear definition of what they consider “public” which would interfere with the existing regulatory authority granted to USDA-APHIS.  It would increase costs and decreased revenue due to changes in personnel practices, business operations, and program offerings. USDA licensed individuals may not be able to allow volunteers, vet students or contract employees such as their vet to touch their animals.  State-licensed wildlife rehabilitators working with cougars and bears will face additional regulatory burden.

Additional restrictions on movement adversely impact conservation breeding program sustainability.  It would be impossible to pair up single primates, felines and bears with out of state facilities or add new genetics to breeding programs.  All facilities would be basically trapped in their own state

USDA Rule  2012-0107-0002    Petition to Amend Animal Welfare Act Regulations To Prohibit Public Contact with Big Cats, Bears, and Nonhuman Primates. 

Bans direct public contact, removing young from mother until natural weaning age except medical necessity, and requires barriers 15 feet away. 

Status: Comments due November 18, 2013. 

Waiting for USDA decision on this ruling.

USDA Rule    APHIS 2012-0106-0001   Petition to Promulgate Standards for Bears. 
Creates caging, feeding and exhibiting requirements for bears. 

Status: Introduced 11/26/2013.  Comments due January 27, 2014. 

Waiting for USDA decision on this ruling.