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House to vote on legislation aiming to block private ownership of big cats, cub petting

Back in 2020, the same bill that banned private ownership of big cats in the U.S. passed the House but didn't make it past the Senate.

WASHINGTON — The U.S. House is set to vote on a measure sometime this week that could potentially prevent private ownership of big cats while also banning cub petting.

Sponsor Rep. Mike Quigley, D-Illinois, said if the Big Cat Public Safety Act is passed, it's meant to "bolster safety in communities, safeguard first responders and protect animals," according to The Hill.

Back in 2020, the same bill that banned private ownership of big cats in the U.S. passed the House by a vote of 272-114. The legislation didn't make it past the Senate, forcing Quigley to reintroduce it to Congress.

According to the media outlet, the rules committee will debate the measure on Tuesday.

The legislation was featured on the Netflix docuseries "Tiger King" and is supported by series star and Big Cat Rescue owner Carole Baskin and her husband, Howard.

"Howard Baskin and I are reaching out to Big Cat Rescue's enormous fan base from his hospital bed, after he underwent extensive back surgery, asking everyone to contact their member of Congress in support of the Big Cat Public Safety Act. We have been working to end cub abuse and phase out private ownership of big cats since 1998," Baskin said in a statement to 10 Tampa Bay. 

Baskin explains back in 2003 a "watered down" version of the bill was passed but had loopholes in cub petting and private ownership.

"Those loopholes have caused massive suffering and have put the public and first responders in harm's way for no reason other than to line the pockets of those who breed, exploit and discard tiger, lion and liger cubs every 3 to 4 months," she explained in a statement.

But now, the House is voting to consider the Big Cat Public Safety Act, which has 259 co-sponsors.

"We have a real chance to end cruelties to big cats in the U.S. by securing passage of the Big Cat Public Safety Act, H.R. 263, which would prohibit keeping big cats as pets and also ban direct physical contact between big cats and the public.," leaders from the Humane Society of the United States said in a blog post.

They went on to say it's the right time to "take action to stop a gross form of cruelty."

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