The Biden administration has expressed support for the controversial Big Cat Safety Act, which has been constantly pushed by animal rights extremists and other sordid figures like Rep. Nancy Mace and Carole Baskin.
On its face, the bill seems like an inoffensive feel-good law to pander to those who like animals — of course, that is never really the case when the government gets involved.
On Tuesday, the Biden administration announced their support for the bill which would ban the breeding or possession of big cats in the United States, other than at sanctuaries accredited by a couple of select private organizations.
“The Administration supports H.R. 263, the Big Cat Public Safety Act, which would build on existing laws that protect big cats like tigers, cheetahs, jaguars, and other wild animals living in captivity in the United States,” The Office of Management and Budget said in a formal statement on behalf of the administration on Tuesday.
The House Rules Committee considered the bill on Tuesday and will likely bring it to a floor vote. It passed the House in 2020, but failed to make it through the senate.
As this reporter previously wrote for Timcast, the Big Cat Safety Act specifically takes aim at the American tiger, often referred to as generic tigers, which are bred here in captivity. While they look like their wild counterparts, many of the apex predator behaviors have been softened as they have been born into the care of human beings, in most cases for over 15 generations.
In the wild, tigers are solitary creatures that only really become social to mate. American tigers are not only social with other tigers, but their human caretakers as well.
Animal rights activists often claim that tigers need miles and miles of vast expanses of land to roam, but the reality is that wild animals do not expend energy frivolously or for fun. They do so because they need to find food, which is not an issue in captivity. While they certainly need space to live a healthy and enriched life, the claims of activists is, of course, overblown.
The so-called “wild” that they often refer to is also decreasing at an extreme pace — which is part of the reason they are endangered in the first place.
Another argument that is frequently made in support of the Big Cat Safety Act is that American tigers are often inbred or hybrids, making them useless for conservation efforts. This was debunked by cat geneticist Stephen O’Brien, Chief of the Laboratory of Genomic Diversity at the National Cancer Institute. He found that American tigers have richer genetic diversity than big cats in the wild and many have the DNA of pure Bengal, Sumatran, or other known subspecies.
The scientist has faced severe backlash from the so-called “conservation” crowd for his firm belief that having captive tigers raised in America is better than them going extinct.
“When evolution creates a species as magnificent as the tiger, it only does it once,” O’Brien said in the The World Behind ‘Tiger King’: Inside America’s Captive Tiger Trade. “If you lose it, it’s not going to come back.”
A federal ban on ownership and breeding of so-called generic American tigers could mean that the entire species could cease to exist entirely very soon.
There is another far more sinister side to this bill, in that it would carve out exemptions and allow captive tigers for certain people and organizations, specifically those who agree to join the American Zoological Association and/or Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries. Essentially, the government would hand the keys to the kingdom to private clubs with steep memberships and rules disallowing human contact with the animals.
“The ‘Big Cat Public Safety Act’ (BCPSA) would strengthen existing law to prohibit the possession of tigers, lions, and other big cat species except by qualified entities, such as AZA-accredited facilities,” the AZA boasts on their website.
This messaging promotes a myth that private zoos are all “unaccredited” and lawless, when in reality they are overseen by the United States Department of Agriculture — just not these organizations. The government agency conducts at least three announced checks per year to make sure that animals are being well taken care of.
So, clearly what proponents of this bill actually want is for the private zoos who have refused to join their club, pay their fees, and play by their rules to be shut down.
One of the biggest and most controversial rules is that in order to be “accredited” you must neuter male animals and insert contraceptive devices inside females to prevent breeding.
The entire concept is blatantly antithetical to the stated goal of conservation and keeping the species alive.
The United States is the currently only country in the world that is actively seeking to lower their population of tigers, as others do everything in their power to keep them alive and breeding. That fact alone should be enough for anyone to question the motives behind this bill.
The two biggest reasons for people to support this bill is to prevent animal cruelty and prevent injuries to humans.
We already have animal cruelty laws to protect animals. Many dogs are mistreated every year, but we do not ban dogs. We simply punish those who were irresponsible owners. Likewise, children are abused every day in this country and we do not ban everyone from having children because of those bad apples.
Speaking of dogs and dangers to humans, fatal canine attacks cause the deaths of about 30 to 50 people in the US each year — with approximately 4.5 million Americans bitten by the animals annually.
In comparison, three people are killed by tigers in the United States every five years. These deaths have occurred in accredited zoos and sanctuaries, not in backyards or private zoos.
A petition to stop the Big Cat Safety Act from the Cavalry Group notes that the only deaths caused by captive cats have been to people who placed themselves in close contact while knowing and accepting the risks involved. The same cannot be said for dogs or many other animals that are considered “acceptable” for human contact.
In fact, people die from drowning in toilets than are killed by tigers in the United States. From 1996-1999, sixteen Americans drowned in toilets — that is four people a year.
It is also important to note that several of the politicians who have co-sponsored the bill have received donations from Baskin, one of the fiercest advocates for the legislation. Of course, Baskin has good reason to want to shut down other places with tigers, as she makes money by allowing the public to go visit her “sanctuary.” It really is no different than a private “roadside” zoo — and this bill will knock out her competition.
“Hey all you cats and kittens!”
Carol Baskin is up here this week talking Big Cats. We discussed the animal rights legislation she’s championing (and more). pic.twitter.com/6ILVGWVG7d
— Nancy Mace (@NancyMace) December 8, 2021
Given the very basic fact that neutering an endangered animal creates fewer of the species, perhaps someone should ask Rep. Mace if the $2,500 was worth it to help reduce the amount of tigers in the world.