By Madison Montgomery
Have you ever heard of — or maybe even seen — one of those ridiculous “tiger selfies” that people seem to idolize these days? Well, if you live in New York, you won’t anymore!
Thanks to governor Andrew Cuomo, direct interactions between humans and big cats in captivity will be prohibited throughout the state of New York. What prompted the bill is the recent trend of people taking selfies with wild animals and posting them on social media sites. While these selfies may seem “cool,” we assure they’re not.
Big cats are often used as moneymaking photo props at zoos, fairs, and other tourist attractions. The problem behind this is that cubs are often taken prematurely from their mothers. After a painful separation, big cat mothers are forced to continue breeding while their cubs are sold within the tourism industry. Cubs that are used as photo props often fall victim to multiple forms of abuse such as malnutrition, mistreatment during training, and neglect or even death once they grow too old to interact with paying customers.
The new bill will ultimately cease the exploitation of big cats in captivity, hopefully reducing the illegal and cruel trade of felines.
Brian Shapiro, a director for The Humane Society of the United States thanked Governor Cuomo and other bill sponsors for “making this a priority for animals held in captivity.”
With this small victory, the HSUS hopes to file petitions in the future to provide similar rights to other exploited animals such as bears and primates.