Experts say that the coronavirus is a danger to captive big cats around the country, including those in public or private zoos. The Bronx Zoo made headlines when it announced that tigers under its care had contracted COVID-19, which is caused by the transmission of the coronavirus.

Animal welfare experts warn that tigers held in zoos and private homes are at risk of catching the coronavirus, which has already been contracted by over a million people in the United States. 5,000 tigers live in captivity in the United States and only 6% of those are in accredited zoos. Zoos have been hit hard by social distancing requirements and economic challenges in the country.

Tigers in private homes or unregulated zoos are in greater danger because they are in close conditions. Zoos are preparing for and trying to prevent outbreaks among animals. The Bronx Zoo believes the tiger contracted coronavirus from a zoo employee.

Dr. Randy Junge, vice president of animal health at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium in Ohio told NBC News, “Privately owned ‘exotics’ … they’re pretty much unregulated, so what they do is completely up to them. “We’ve divided up our staff into small teams. We wear masks. We maintain distance between workers. We report illness and take our temperature daily. And all of those steps that we do to protect people are also protecting our animals. So there are no zoo visitors here. All of our keeper staff are wearing masks around the animals.”

“Big cats” that are privately owned, like those previously owned by Joe Exotic, are in danger across the United States. According to Animal Welfare Institute, “Unscrupulous facilities profit from cub petting or photo opportunities, which fuels a rampant and vicious cycle of breeding and dumping cubs once they are 12 weeks old. Having outgrown their usefulness, these cubs are funneled into the exotic pet trade, sold to another disreputable exhibitor, or end up in the black market trade for wildlife parts.” To help these animals, help us persuade Congress to pass the Big Cat Public Safety Act, to protect big cats from these terrible circumstances.


Please sign this petition urging Congress to pass the Big Cat Public Safety Act.


Read more about protecting yourself from coronavirus. Check the CDC website for more information on how to protect yourself.

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Captive Tigers at Risk for COVID-19

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