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Protect tigers: Keep them out of American backyards

Captive Tiger Giesbers/WWF-Canon

Shockingly, there are about 5,000 captive tigers in the US—many more than in the wild. Almost all of the captive tigers are owned privately as pets—not by zoos or accredited institutions. Because there isn't a system to keep track of the tigers, both the American public and the tigers are at risk. Isn't it time we took a stand?

We need your help to remind President Obama that our government's inaction to close loopholes on captive tigers leaves wild tigers—and people—vulnerable.

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Dear President Obama, 

I respectfully urge you to strictly regulate the private ownership of tigers by individuals in the US. There are as many as 5,000 captive tigers in America, and the majority of these animals are subject to little or no government oversight. Currently, there is no accurate record or system to determine the actual number of tigers in the country, where they are, or what happens to them after they die.

Not only can captive tigers help to fuel wildlife trafficking and the illegal trade in tiger parts, they also pose a risk to public safety in the United States--as was tragically demonstrated in Zanesville, Ohio, in October 2011.

I commend your historic leadership to combat wildlife trafficking, including Executive Order 13648, which recognizes that it is in our national interest to prevent trafficking in protected wildlife species, including tigers.

To ensure that captive tigers in the US are in no way helping to fuel the illegal trade in tigers and tiger parts and to promote public safety, I urge you to take the following actions:

1. Direct the US Department of Agriculture to require that any person or facility licensed to exhibit, breed or deal in tigers must report annually on the number of tigers held as well as any births, deaths, transfers or sales. These statistics should be made publically available.

2. Direct the US Fish and Wildlife Service to remove the exemption for "generic" tigers under the Captive-Bred Wildlife (CBW) registration system.

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