Grand Rapids Zoo Wants Change In Big Cat Law

Current law prevents zoos from breeding animals over 35 pounds

April 11, 2018 - 6:12 pm

LANSING (WWJ) - Grand Rapids' John Ball Zoo wants to change Michigan's Large Carnivore Act -- which prevents zoos from breeding animals over 35 pounds like cats and bears.

They're pushing for an amendment in the law that would allow it, with enhanced criteria:

"It basically says, if you are going to bred a large carnivore you have to make sure you are taking care of the animal, you have to make sure that the animal is safe, that the public is safe and trained medical staff, and that you are doing it for a science-based reason -- which is to conserve the species," says CEO Peter D'Arienzo.  

"Conservation breeding programs ensure the preservation of endangered species and large carnivores including tigers, bears and lions."

D'Arienzo says the zoo had to relocate its male tigers to other zoos out of state because of the Large Carnivore Act.

Similar legislation passed in the Senate by a bipartisan group of elected leaders in December 2016, and then lost momentum.