Las Vegas, NV (April 24, 2007)–On April 19, 2007,  Kansas U.S. Representative Kansas Nancy Boyda introduced HR 1947 in the U.S. House of Representatives, which was  referred to the Committee on Agriculture . 

It is purported to “To promote public safety and improve the welfare of captive big cats, and for other purposes.”This `feel-good’ bill, also known as Haley’s Act, is in honor of Haley Hilderbrand from Altamont, who was killed in Kansas on August 2005 by a Siberian tiger while voluntarily posing for a picture in an USDA licensed facility.
While Haley’s untimely death is tragic, this bill would have done nothing to prevent this accident since what happened in Haley’s case was a clear violation of existing USDA rules, which forbid exhibition of any tiger, lion, cougar, cheetah, leopard, or jaguar over the age of 16 weeks to the public without proper caging or barriers even when restrained. http://www.aphis.usda.gov/ac/bigcatq&a.html   

 

Tiger that killed Haley was a full grown animal and the exhibitor, ‘Lost Creek Animal Sanctuary and Animal Entertainment Productions’, clearly broke the existing rules that would have prevented this tragedy, and was punished and closed in 2006.http://www.usda.gov/da/oaljdecisions/AWA_06-0002_110306.pdf

“Since at least 1990 there has not been one death as a result of a captive big cat roaming at large; the majority of fatalities are to handlers, owners or people voluntarily on the property where the animals are kept, not to the uninvolved public. The best way to avoid being killed by a captive exotic animal is to simply not trespass on the property where they are being kept.” Says Scott Shoemaker, and co-founder of REXANO, “Responsible Exotic Animal Ownership”, www.REXANO.org, a new free web resource designed to give statistics based research material to private owners of exotic and wild animals to fight unfair legislation.

How does Haley’s Act ‘ensure humane treatment’ of big cats? There is nothing in the bill that would ensure humane treatment beyond what the Animal Welfare Act already does?” asks Polly Britton, an Ohio animal owner and Secretary of the Ohio Association of Animal Owners, www.OAAO.us.  “Looks to me like all Haley’s Act does is create a means for USDA to deny/revoke a license simply because some state or local agency or official recommends it, while placing a moratorium on new private big cat USDA facilities.”U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) is the federal government agency that regulates commercial exhibition of wildlife. Their Animal Welfare Act (AWA) requires that minimum standards for the humane care and use of animals be met at licensed facilities.   

   
 This bill also appears unconstitutional, as it creates monopoly on exhibiting baby big cats under 16 weeks of age by exempting zoos accredited by private group AZA (American Zoo and Aquarium Association).According to Antitrust Division of Department of Justice, ‘The Sherman Antitrust Act’ says: “An unlawful monopoly exists when only one firm controls the market for a product or service, and it has obtained that market power, not because its product or service is superior to others, but by suppressing competition with anticompetitive conduct.”It also expresses national commitment to a free market economy in which competition free from private and governmental restraints leads to the best results for consumers. 

I am wondering if legislators might be unwittingly creating a monopoly and assaulting the Fourteenth Amendment to the US Constitution, ‘Equal protection of the law’, by introducing and passing unfair bills while exempting private group AZA,” ponders Zuzana Kukol, a Nevada tiger trainer and REXANO co-founder. “This is unAmerican. We want to warn everybody; should this bill pass, it would end most live educational school shows featuring baby exotic cats that are currently presented by private non AZA educators.” 

“‘Kids are fascinated by big cat cubs. Kids learn valuable lessons about life from being around such incredible animals. Haley’s act makes such learning a crime.” says ‘Tim Stoffel the Lion Man’ http://www.lionlamb.us/lion.html.REXANO is aware that unfortunate incidents can become sensationalized by the media and used by animal rights (AR) fanatics to incite the public and legislators into overreacting to a rare incident, when in reality only 17 people were fatally mauled by big cats since 1990,which is one death per year.

“In the last year, accidents occurred in AZA facilities which would be exempt from this bill” says Kukol.”There is a hidden agenda with regard to all of these laws and it has nothing to do with public safety or concerns for good animal care. Rather, it is about eroding or removing American freedoms, the right to own as many animals as we can provide for.” states Kim Bloomer a natural pet care educator and host of the online radio show Animal Talk Naturally www.AnimalTalkNaturally.com    

According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC, 53.500 children from ages 0-19  died in 2003, many in activities involving toys, pools, cars, bicycles, boating, sports, but there is no federal legislation restricting the public from them.  Why not, isn’t their life/death sensationalized or important enough to name a bill after them?  

REXANO is committed to protect the rights of animal owners and supports responsible private ownership of exotic animals in any form, be it non commercial pet or sanctuary, as well as commercial breeder or exhibitor.
 

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