WASHINGTON – Legislation addressing the trade and ownership of big cats featured in the Netflix docuseries "Tiger King" was passed by the House of Representatives on Thursday.
The bill, the Big Cat Public Safety Act, passed by a 272-114 vote. It would ban the private ownership of big cats like lions and tigers, a measure "Tiger King's" Carole Baskin and Big Cat Rescue, the organization she runs with her husband Howard, have spent thousands of dollars and years lobbying for.
It would allow existing facilities to keep their big cats and exotic animals but would prohibit most contact between the public and the animals.
Carole Baskin told USA TODAY she was "thrilled" the legislation was finally coming up for a vote, calling it part of a "decades-long effort" to end the abuse of cubs and private ownership of big cats.
The bill faces an uncertain future in the Republican-controlled Senate. The Senate version of the bill has support from both sides of the aisle, but it is unlikely the Senate will act on the bill with only two weeks left in session and with other major issues like COVID relief and government spending on the a.
Handwritten letter to Trump: 'Tiger King' star Joe Exotic formally requests pardon
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, criticized Democrats for acting on what he said would "Prosecute Tiger King" rather than address issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
☑️ Prosecute Tiger King
❌Emergency COVID relief
❌Help small businesses
❌Reopen the economy
❌Get kids back in school https://t.co/wU9enukZkP
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) November 30, 2020
The bill's sponsor, Rep. Mike Quigley, D-Ill,. rejected Republicans' argument and told USA TODAY in a phone interview Democrats could address COVID relief and the economy at the same time they tackled the trade in big cats.
Quigley said the legislation was "long overdue" because ownership of the animals is "inherently dangerous" and their confinement is inhumane. His family taught him it was a "sin to treat any animal inhumanely," he said.
The Illinois Democrat said the Netflix series had helped "shed light" on the problem, but he "couldn't watch the show because I can't watch animals being treated inhumanely."
Howard Baskin, the advisory board chairman of Big Cat Rescue and who spearheaded the group's efforts on the bill, told USA TODAY he was "ecstatic" about the bill, which they had been working on since 2012.
Education secretary: Betsy DeVos vowed to change American education. For the most part, she didn’t.
The bill was passed out of the House Natural Resources Committee in September 2019. At the time, six Republican lawmakers objected to the legislation, saying it would "hinder conservation and education efforts by destroying structured big cat breeding programs" and "create and place harmful bureaucratic layers of regulation" on existing facilities.
Baskin disagreed, saying the legislation "doesn't put anybody out of business. It does not stop breeding."
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: 'Tiger King' bill: House passes bill banning ownership of big cats