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‘Tiger King’ bill has been introduced in State House

Rep. Melissa Shusterman makes comments during the House debate on the 2019-20 state budget.

No more lions or tiger or bears — oh my!

State Rep. Melissa Shusterman, D-Chester/Montgomery, is proposing a ban on the sale of exotic animals to private citizens.

Shusterman is far from the only politician to see Tiger King and propose legislation. The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Big Cat Public Safety Act, passed by a 272-114 vote, but was not taken up in the U.S. Senate.

House Bill 201 is co-sponsored by several Pennsylvania Democrats and would limit private ownership of elephants, bears, coyotes, lions, tigers, leopards, jaguars, cheetahs, cougars, wolves and any crossbreed of these animals which have similar characteristics in appearance or features.

Exotic wildlife dealers would be defined as anyone who has, buys, sells, locates or finds for a fee, donates, barters, gives away or otherwise disposes of exotic wildlife and engages in five documented transactions a year.

It would allow existing facilities to keep their big cats and exotic animals but would prohibit most contact between the public and the animals.

“To address this problem, I plan to introduce legislation that would prohibit the issuance of licenses for the possession of exotic wildlife by the general public,” Shusterman said in her legislative memorandum. “This would include measures to protect all nonindigenous animals, as well as dangerous native wildlife. In addition, it would add new requirements for wildlife dealers and menageries, with some exceptions for zoos, wildlife parks, and wildlife sanctuaries, all aimed at ending the cruelty and danger of unregulated wildlife ownership.”

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