If you thought you saw a big Putty-tat, you probably did. In recent years, secret privately-owned tigers and other exotic cats have suddenly appeared, roaming in big cities like Houston, Dallas, and Atlanta.

“Tiger King” Star Carole Baskin Talks About New Streaming Show And Secret Big Cat Owners

If you thought you saw a big Putty-tat, you probably did. In recent years, secret privately-owned tigers and other exotic cats have suddenly appeared, roaming in big cities like Houston, Dallas, and Atlanta.
Carole Baskin, Big Cat Rescue

TAMPA, Fla. – If you thought you saw a big Putty-tat, you probably did. In recent years, secret privately-owned tigers and other exotic cats have suddenly appeared, roaming in big cities like Houston, Dallas, and Atlanta.

But a new federal bill, the Big Cat Public Safety Act, puts an end to any new private ownership of big cats and all cub petting zoos and businesses. Existing big cat owners are expected to finally register their pets under the new law.

Carole Baskin, CEO of Big Cat Rescue, a Tampa wildlife sanctuary, and a star of Netflix’s “Tiger King,” told The Free Press, “Nobody knew until those cats were running loose that they were even there.” She said this is a big reason why law enforcement has been such a staunch supporter of the bill which she helped draft that President Biden is expected to sign shortly. “When they go in to fight a fire or deal with a hurricane, they don’t even know where these cats are, because before now, there’s been no federal requirement that people who have them register them.”

She said the bill protects the public as well as jaguars, lions, tigers, leopards and cougars, and all hybrid-bred big cats such as the “liger,” a lion-tiger mix.

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Florida prohibits private big cat ownership, but Baskin said secret owners have avoided detection by filing as small-time exhibitors under the USDA, which requires licensing of all big cats in possession.

These owners also violated Florida’s required signposts of such animals on a property. Because of these tactics, Baskin said no one really knows how many secretly held big cats exist in Florida.

Baskin said, “Up until recently, Florida led the world in the number of killings, maulings, and escapes by big cats.” She stated that more states have recently banned or partially banned ownership. The USDA’s Office of the Inspector General reported that they think 70 percent of alleged licensed exhibitors are just concealing private big cat pets.

Baskin also described how big cats have become privately owned.

Often, families have gotten free tiger cubs, for example, from photographers and zoos who know the cats are beginning to develop their killer instinct. This maturation process begins around three months of age when they can bite off a finger.

She described how even big cat mothers attempt to force their offspring to leave home as soon as they sexually mature because the parents don’t want to be attacked over possession of the cat family’s home territory.

In the meantime, Baskin announced a new streaming deal with Unchained TV. The animal lover’s network, will be streaming at least 100 of Baskin’s Big Cat Rescue short films.

“This will give us more viewership from animal lovers,” Baskin said.

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