Virginia Bill Would Prohibit Public Contact with Wild Animals

As we go to press, a bill to address the exploitation of tiger cubs and other captive wild animals awaits Virginia Governor Ralph Northam’s signature. SB 1030 would prohibit public contact with dangerous wild animals such as bears, most big cats, and nonhuman primates. Allowing the public to have direct contact with exotic animals is dangerous and exploitative. Many young animals used for petting, photo ops, or other direct public contact are taken from their mothers as infants. These vulnerable babies with weak immune systems are forced to endure the stressful conditions associated with rough and excessive public handling, as well as physical abuse from handlers attempting to keep them under control. When the animals outgrow their usefulness to the petting zoo, they are typically funneled into the exotic pet trade, sent to another shoddy roadside menagerie, or killed. The Virginia legislature is to be commended for passing this bill, and we are hopeful it will return to this issue and add elephants to the animals that would be protected.

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