To the editor:
The Netflix docuseries Tiger King has brought certain issues to public attention regarding the treatment of big cats kept in captivity and used for entertainment purposes like cub petting and handling for selfies.
In captivity, cubs are only valuable for a short period of time, after which tigers become expensive to maintain and feed, and are often sold to roadside zoos which often do not provide adequate care or living facilities. Some are kept as pets but because they require so much care, can be subject to neglect and kept in substandard conditions. These predators also pose a danger to the public.
There is a bill currently in Congress – the Big Cat Public Safety Act (H.R. 1380/S.2561) – which would prohibit public contact with big cats and prohibit possession of big cats as pets. Putting an end to cub petting would reduce the number of tigers bred for this purpose. Experts agree that tigers bred in captivity are not contributing to the conservation of tiger populations, as many of these captive bred tigers are crossbred varieties. Less breeding of tiger cubs would ensure that less tigers wind up being disposed of at substandard facilities or being kept as pets, ensuring big cats would be kept out of often-unsecure conditions, protecting public safety, including that of our first responders.
I am grateful to Sen. Edward Markey for cosponsoring this compassionate legislation and encourage readers to contact Sen. Elizabeth Warren and urge her to cosponsor as well.