Kitty Block, Acting President and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States, issued the following statement concerning the deadly mauling of an intern by a lion at Conservators Center in Burlington, N.C.

"This is a tragic incident and our thoughts go out to the family of the victim. Sadly this incident illustrates the need for strong legislation to better restrict the private possession of dangerous wild animals. North Carolina is one of only four states with little to no laws prohibiting the private possession of dangerous wild animals. In North Carolina individuals can easily acquire big cats, bears, and other dangerous species and keep them in deplorable and unsafe conditions. Weak laws result in situations like the 10-year-old boy who was killed by his uncle’s pet tiger, the 3-year-old who was blinded after being bitten on the head by his father’s pet tiger, and yesterday’s deadly mauling of an intern by a lion at a privately run facility. We urge lawmakers at the federal and at the state level to effectively put an end to this ongoing problem by passing legislation to ban the private possession of dangerous wild animals, which would protect the public, first responders, as well as animals.”

 Facts:

  • There is no uniform regulation regarding the private possession of big cats or other dangerous wild animals in the U.S. Thousands of these animals are being kept as pets or in unaccredited zoos. 
  • North Carolina is one of only four states with little or no laws regarding the private possession of dangerous wild animals.
  • The Big Cat Public Safety Act (HR 1818) in the 115th Congress and expected to be introduced again in the 116th Congress will create a national framework for the keeping of dangerous wild animals in private possession, and prohibits public contact with certain species. The bill ends future ownership of big cats by unqualified individuals and allows for a series of exemptions for individuals meeting specific requirements.

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