The bipartisan Indiana House Bill 1248 was recently signed into law by Governor Eric Holcomb on March 3rd. First introduced by Representative David Abbot, this legislation will prohibit owners of specified animals (primarily exotic apex predators) from allowing the public to come into direct contact or in close proximity to them.
This common-sense legislation is directed towards ending the practices of “cub petting” that is done at some private zoos and preserves. Cub petting activities allow the public to interact with wild animals directly.
Cub petting and similar activities have the potential to be dangerous to the public. These activities also put the animals – which are wild, not domesticated – in a position that can be threatening to their natural behaviors and welfare. House Bill 1248 follows the recent closing of a facility shut down by Indiana state officials, which offered cub petting to its visitors. In addition to cub petting, the facility also faced allegations of over 120 Animal Welfare Act violations.
What’s in the Bill?
In addition to the cub petting restrictions, it also requires that any person owning a “specified animal” have a license issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as a dealer, breeder, or exhibitor of that animal. The new law does not prohibit the ownership of exotic animals.
The official language reads as follows:
“Direct contact with specified animals.