U.S. House passes bill that would prohibit public contact with big cats, like tigers

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A woman walks her dogs near the US Capitol Building on March 27, 2020, in Washington, DC. – The US House of Representatives is expected to vote on a COVID-19 stimulus bill which was passed by the Senate earlier in the week. (Photo by ALEX EDELMAN/AFP via Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (WBTW) — The U.S. House passed a bill Thursday that would prohibit public contact with big cats, such as tigers, according to the House Press Gallery.

The bill passed by a vote of 272-114. The bill gained momentum after the very popular Netflix series, “Tiger King,” which featured “Doc” Antle’s Myrtle Beach Safari.

The Big Cat Public Safety Act “revises requirements governing the trade of big cats (i.e., species of lion, tiger, leopard, cheetah, jaguar, or cougar or any hybrid of such species). Specifically, it revises restrictions on the possession and exhibition of big cats, including to restrict direct contact between the public and big cats.”

An owner of a big cat sanctuary in Florida told sister station WMBB the bill would allow professionals employed at a sanctuary within 15 feet of big cats, but not volunteers, which could hurt sanctuaries.

Antle appeared in a Virginia court in early November on wildlife trafficking charges. Virginia officials say Antle and Keith Wilson, owner of Wilson’s Wild Animal Park in Virginia, trafficked lion cubs between Virginia and Myrtle Beach Safari.

Antle told News13 in December he took in three lion cubs from Wilson’s Wild Animal Park in Virginia, which couldn’t care for the animals. That park shut down after about 120 animals were seized from it in August of 2019.

In 2019, New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. posted a video that shows him and others throwing footballs to chimpanzees and petting young tigers at Myrtle Beach Safari.

The bill now moves on to the Senate.

Read the full bill here.

News13 has reached out to ‘Doc’ Antle regarding this legislation. Count on us for updates.

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