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House of Representatives
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: April 8, 2020 03:16 PM
From: Representative Melissa L. Shusterman
To: All House members
Subject: Exotic Animal Ownership
Today, there are an estimated 10,000 tigers held in captivity in the United States, while only 4,000 remain in the wild. Of these 10,000 non-indigenous tigers, less than 350 are managed by the trusted associations. Without the standards of trusted associations, the remainder of these tigers are subject to unregulated and unethical practices. 

As depicted in the 2020 documentary “Tiger King”, the nature of exotic animal ownership in the United States is far more focused on profit and entertainment value than it is on proper care of non-indigenous animals.  

A valuable tiger cub, preferred for use in tourist attractions, can be sold for up to $2,000. While the animal is in its earliest developmental stages, it poses little risk to others. So much so, that cubs are popularly handled by large, untrained groups of entertainment seekers. This cycle of exploitation begins early while the animals are most profitable, continues into breeding and crossbreeding, and finally ends with the unethical euthanization and disposal of older animals.  

This paints a grim picture of the captivity of non-indigenous, exotic animals in our country. That is why I plan to introduce legislation that would prohibit the future possession and issuance of licenses for possession of exotic wildlife by the general public. This would include measures to protect all non-indigenous animals, as well as dangerous native wildlife.  

In addition, it would add new requirements for wildlife dealers and menageries, with some exceptions for zoos, wildlife parks, and wildlife sanctuaries, all aimed at ending the cruelty and danger of unregulated ownership of wild animals. 

Introduced as HB2450