On Thursday Dec. 3, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Big Cat Public Safety Act with a vote of 272-114. According to Rep. Mike Quigley's website, the bill "prohibits the private ownership of big cats like lions and tigers and curbs the exploitative industry of cub-petting." It now heads to the Senate.
"We are thrilled that the Big Cat Public Safety Act passed the House with bipartisan support to protect the big cats from abuse, the public and first responders from injuries and death, and the tiger in the wild from extinction," the founder and CEO of the organization, which is described as a non-profit sanctuary to several exotic cats, stated. "None of these important goals are partisan in any way and we hope the Senate will follow suit quickly to make it into law."
Baskin has been pushing for Congress to pass the bill for years and spoke about her activism on Tiger King. Before the big news broke, she urged Rep. Ross Spano to vote for bill, citing an injury one of her organization's volunteers suffered after a tiger "grabbed her arm and nearly tore it off at the shoulder."
"A volunteer of ours nearly lost her arm today," Baskin tweeted. "A captive bred tiger discarded after he was no longer profitable to his owner, like thousands we and other sanctuaries have to rescue. This bill ends that."
Baskin wasn't the only one excited about the big news. Congressman Quigley, who introduced the bill, expressed his enthusiasm in a press release, as well.
"After months of the public loudly and clearly calling for Congress to end private big cat ownership, I am extremely pleased that the House has now passed the Big Cat Public Safety Act," he stated. "Big cats are wild animals that simply do not belong in private homes, backyards, or shoddy roadside zoos. Too often, law enforcement and first responders are the ones who end up in danger from these animals and, in a time when our first responders are already facing increased risk from the pandemic, we owe it to them to limit the additional dangers they face on the job."
Quigley explained "animals like tigers, lions, leopards, and pumas should not be exposed to miserable conditions so many of them in our country currently face."
"By passing the Big Cat Public Safety Act we are one step closer to ensuring these animals are treated humanely and to keeping the public safe from dangerous big cats," he continued. "It is my hope that the Senate will quickly bring this bill to the floor so we can get it signed into law before the year ends."
During his speech on the House floor, Quigley talked about the attention Tiger King brought to this issue.
As he put it, "The Netflix series Tiger King showed the world in stark relief how exploited, dangerous and inhumane this tiny so-called industry is."
Tiger King told the story of Joe Exotic, including the running of his G.W. Exotic Animal Park in Oklahoma and his feud with Baskin. Also known as Joseph Maldonado-Passage, he is currently serving a 22-year prison sentence. He was accused of hiring someone to try and kill Baskin and convicted of two counts of murder-for-hire. According to the Department of Justice, he was also convicted of "eight counts of violating the Lacey Act for falsifying wildlife records and nine counts of violating the Endangered Species Act."