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March 11, 2013

The HSUS Urges Texas Lawmakers to Address Problems Caused by Dangerous Exotic Animals

The Humane Society of the United States welcomed the introduction of a bill that would prohibit the private ownership of big cats and certain dangerous primates such as chimpanzees and baboons in counties with populations exceeding 75,000. Currently, Texas has one of the worst records of dangerous incidents involving captive big cats in the country. H.B. 1015 is sponsored by Rep. Ryan Guillen, D-31, and S.B. 1627 is sponsored by Sen. Eddie Lucio, D-27.

Rep. Guillen said: “These animals can cause death and inflict serious injury which is why I introduced this public safety measure. It is difficult for individuals to meet wild and dangerous animals’ specialized needs while in captivity and properly ensure the  safety of their neighbors and their community.”

Sen. Lucio said: “Since 1990, more children have been killed or injured by captive big cats in Texas than any other state. Texas’ law needs to prevent people from keeping dangerous animals in their backyards and basements. These animals are not intended to be pets. They deserve the care and respect that can only be provided by professional facilities.”

Texas currently requires owners of dangerous wild animals to register the animals with the municipal or county animal control office or sheriff, but does not directly prohibit the private possession of big cats and primates.

Katie Jarl, Texas state director for The HSUS said: “Lax laws in Texas make the state a haven for exotic pet owners and threaten the safety of our residents. There may be more tigers in the Lone Star State than remain in the wild in Asia. Strong laws are urgently needed to prevent private owners from harboring wild animals who endanger communities.”

In Texas alone, two children have been killed and more than four dozen people have lost limbs or suffered other traumatic injuries, many requiring hospital treatment, after being mauled, bitten or scratched by captive tigers, lions, leopards, cougars, chimpanzees and monkeys.  

More than 30 states have already passed laws that ban the possession of big cats and some primates. The time has come for Texas to take decisive action on this issue.

Facts:

  • Since 1990, more than 22 people have died and nearly 500 have been injured in more than 600 incidents involving captive big cats and primates nationwide.
  • The Association of Zoos and Aquariums and the National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians oppose the private possession of exotic and wild animals.
  • An estimated 5,000 to 7,000 tigers live in the United States. Even when born in captivity and hand-raised, these wild animals retain their predatory instincts.
  • Primates can inflict serious injuries and spread viral, bacterial, fungal and parasitic diseases that pose serious health risks to humans. 

Media Contact: Niki Ianni: 610-999-6932; nianni@humanesociety.org

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