Dear [Decision Maker],
I am a constituent of yours who cares about the protection of animals in captivity and about public safety. I am writing to urge you to support H.R. 4122, the Big Cats and Public Safety Protection Act, which was introduced by Rep. "Buck" McKeon and Rep. Loretta Sanchez. The bill would prohibit the private possession of big cats unless they are being kept at accredited zoos and lifetime wildlife sanctuaries.
We were all horrified on October 18, 2011, when the owner of a backyard menagerie opened the cages of his tigers, leopards, lions, wolves, bears and monkeys before killing himself, giving police no choice but to shoot and kill nearly 50 animals -- 38 of them big cats -- near Zanesville, OH. Imagine what could have happened if those starving, dangerous wild animals had reached more populated areas of the community?
In the past 21 years, 21 people, including 5 children, have been by killed by captive big cats in the U.S. Other incidents include 246 maulings, 254 escapes, 143 big cats deaths, and 128 confiscations. The U.S. is home to roughly 5,000 captive tigers -- more than are found in the wild. Since 1990, captive tigers have killed at least 12 people in the U.S. and mauled about 75 more.
Big cats in captivity are often neglected and abused -- owners and exhibitors are frequently cited by authorities for cruelty and other animal welfare abuses. Most wildlife sanctuaries for mistreated or unwanted big cats are at or nearing capacity, and many lack financial reserves for more than a few months operating expenses. Congress passed the Captive Wildlife Safety Act in 2003 prohibiting interstate trade of big cats, but given the growth in the number of captive big cats in private possession nationwide, it is clear that more stringent action is necessary.
Again, please support H.R.4122 and help protect both public safety and the welfare of big cats in captivity. Thank you for considering my comments, and I look forward to your reply.