Tigers, lions, and other big cat species have exploded in popularity in the exotic pet trade. There are an estimated 5,000 to 7,000 tigers in the United States, but fewer than 400 of them are in zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.
Even when born in captivity and hand-raised, these wild animals retain their predatory instincts. They can (and do) injure and kill people, as evidenced by the hundreds of attacks by big cats in the U.S. in the last two decades alone.
In captivity, big cats suffer immensely from being confined to cages that are magnitudes smaller than the vast distances they typically roam in the wild. Allowing private possession of these animals poses unnecessary and preventable risks to public safety—and to the welfare of the animals themselves.
Threats to big cats
Big cats kept as pets are prematurely removed from their mothers—often within just days of birth—which often denies them proper nutrition and the natural socialization process required for normal development. The cubs very quickly mature to the point where their great strength and wild instincts make them impossible to control, and they are then, more often than not, relegated to live the remainder of their long lives caged in backyards, basements, and garages. More....