Tigers Don’t Belong in Our Backyards

(Photo:© Harimau Kayu/Getty Images)

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About the Petition

Shockingly, there are about 5,000 captive tigers in the U.S.—many more than in the wild. Almost all of the captive tigers are owned privately as pets—not by zoos or accredited institutions.

Why does this matter? For two main reasons:

  1. These tigers could become victims of wildlife crime. Without strict regulations on the private ownership of tigers, we cannot prevent them, or their bones and skins, from finding a way into the lucrative illegal international black market.
  2. It’s a matter of public safety. It’s entirely possible that your neighbor has a tiger on his property and has never reported it to local officials or informed you. In some places, it’s easier to buy a tiger as a pet than to adopt a dog from a shelter.

We need your help to remind President Obama that our government’s inaction to close loopholes on captive tigers leaves wild tigers—and people—vulnerable.

To: President Barack Obama

I respectfully urge you to strictly regulate the private ownership of tigers by individuals in the U.S. There are as many as 5,000 captive tigers in America, and the majority of these animals are subject to little or no government oversight. There is no accurate record or system to determine the actual number of tigers in the country, where they are, or what happens to them after they die.

Not only can captive tigers help to fuel wildlife trafficking and the illegal trade in tiger parts, but they also pose a risk to public safety in the United States—as was tragically demonstrated in Zanesville, Ohio, in October 2011.

I commend your historic leadership in combating wildlife trafficking, including Executive Order 13648, which recognizes that it is in our national interest to prevent trafficking in protected wildlife species, including tigers.

To ensure that captive tigers in the U.S. are in no way helping to fuel the illegal trade in tigers and tiger parts and to promote public safety, I urge you to take the following actions:

  • Direct the U.S. Department of Agriculture to require that any person or facility licensed to exhibit, breed or deal in tigers must report annually on the number of tigers held as well as any births, deaths, transfers, or sales. These statistics should be made publicly available.
  • Direct the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to remove the exemption for “generic” tigers under the Captive-Bred Wildlife registration system.


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