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Are There More Tigers in Texas and Florida Than in the Wild?

A close examination of the data regarding captive tiger populations in the United States suggests it is highly unlikely pet tiger populations are as large as commonly thought.

Are There More Tigers in Texas and Florida than in the Wild?

12/27/2018 - Rachel Garner

More tigers live in American backyards than exist in the wild anywhere else in the world.
— Typical Tiger Population Claim

One of the most commonly heard phrases about tigers in the United States is that the populations of pet tigers in one or two southern states exceeds the entire combined population of tigers anywhere else in the world. It is a sound bite that has been repeated for almost two decades by zoo educators, sanctuary groups, and reporters. While the claim appears at first glance to have some foundation in academic sources, a closer examination indicates that there is very little data to support that conclusion, and that what data does exist suggests there are likely to be far less tigers in the U.S.

Why Do People Think There Are So Many Tigers?

Two narratives currently exist about the privately owned captive tiger population in the United States: first that there are easily 5,000 - 7,000 pet tigers in the country, possibly more (World Wildlife Fund, 2010; HSUS, 2017; The Wild Animal Sanctuary, 2017; Jeffreys, 2018), and second, that more tigers are kept in Texas and/or Florida than are currently living in the wild (Born Free, 2012; Graef, 2013; Brulliard, 2016). These two claims both seem to have originated in around the early 2000s. Although the claims are close to two decades old, both continue to have widespread acceptance. Neither claim seems particularly accurate, however, in light of the current data.

By the late 1990s, it was well known that there was a huge population of big cats in private hands in the United States. Before the Endangered Species Act (ESA) was passed in 1973, there were no restrictions on the importation or purchase of big cats by regular citizens, and privately owned populations as well as those used in commercial endeavors flourished. By 1997, the total population of tigers in the United States was assessed at a little over 7,500 animals (Werner, 1997 as cited in Werner, 2005). It appears that the first claims about the large number of privately owned (i.e. non-commercial use) tigers started to occur fairly frequently in the mainstream news media in the early 2000s. The first documented instance of the claim that the domestic tiger population exceeded the wild population was in an article in the Dallas Observer, which stated that “those familiar with the issue claim that the tiger population in Texas is at about 4,000 animals” which “would mean there are more tigers in the state than in India” (Siderius, 2002). The frequency of online newspaper records discussing the size of captive tiger populations in the United States increased around 2003, when between 5,000 - 7,000 tigers were thought to be in the entire United States. Most of the claims from that period source The Humane Society of the United States or the director of an animal sanctuary in Colorado as the origin of their numbers (Brennan, 2003; Kelley, 2003; My Plainview, 2003).

Thereafter, population claims numbering upwards of 5,000 began to be repeated more frequently, often without sourcing (Garner, 2018c). By the end of 2005, claims of as many as 10,000 and 15,000 privately owned tigers had begun to appear (Oversight, 2005; Indian Express, 2005). Privately owned tiger population claims of anywhere between 5,000 and 10,000 animals were repeated the most often over the subsequent decade or so, frequently without sources or attributed only to “experts” or “advocacy groups” (Garner, 2018c) and were generally considered “common knowledge” within the relevant industries by 2018. Note that the wild tiger population worldwide in 2018 is known to be only somewhere between 2,100 and 3,900 animals (Hauser, 2016; IUCN, 2018). If the population of tigers claimed to exist in the United States is accurate, there would clearly be more of them privately owned within the country’s borders than living in the wild. The claims about current captive tiger populations in the U.S., however, appear to be inflated and are not supported by what is known about the progression of privately owned big cat populations of all species in the country.

What Data Is There?

After the Endangered Species Act (ESA) passed in 1973, privately owned big cat populations continued to flourish in the United States due to efforts by breeders and owners to circumvent the letter of the law and inconsistent enforcement the law on the part of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). The permitting process established by the ESA for legitimate entities to continue propagating endangered species turned out to be too resource-intensive; after an intensive review the Captive Bred Wildlife (CBW) permitting process was implemented in 1979. The new program allowed registered entities to engage in otherwise prohibited activities prohibited by the Endangered Species Act, such as interstate commerce, as long as their activities could be shown to enhance the propagation or survival of the species (U.S. FWS, 2016). In order to register with the CBW program and benefit from this expedited permitting process, holders of any endangered species covered by the program were required to maintain “accurate written records of activities, including births, deaths, and transfers of specimens (Federal Register, 2016)” and make them available to the agency upon request. In 1998, the FWS amended the CBW regulations to exclude “generic” or “sub-species hybrid” tigers to reduce the large number of man-hours required to track animals that were not “purebred” and were not of value to legitimate conservation breeding efforts. Thus, while breeders producing generic tigers, which were essentially mutts, were still technically restricted from commercial trade in big cats under the ESA, they were now exempt from the only type of direct and consistent oversight from the Department of the Interior. So while the population of privately owned big cats in the United States was decreasing overall due to the effectiveness of the ESA’s prohibitions against importations and purchase (Nyhus et al.,2009), the generic tiger exemption from the CBW program actually facilitated an increased domestic market for privately owned tigers until the loophole was closed again in 2016.

While there is no government or private registry recording or tracking all of the captive big cats in the United States, there are still many sources from which to draw information that can inform a broad estimate of the tiger population in the country. All big cats of any species residing in a facility licensed by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA APHIS, n.d.) are recorded in inventories that licensees are required to submit yearly. These records include all tigers used for exhibition, breeding programs, and entertainment, and are accessible through a Freedom of Information Act request. The Association of Zoos and Aquariums maintains studbooks tracking all of the tigers that are part of their conservation breeding programs (Tiger SSP, 2018). Tigers in other exhibition settings have been counted by researchers using records kept through tracking programs such as Species 360 (Nyhus et al., 2010), and might also be identified through examinations of regional or international studbook data. The most difficult part of creating an accurate survey of the captive tiger populations in the United States is identifying all the individuals that reside in private ownership situations. Some states or municipalities require registration and/or licensing for privately owned dangerous exotic animals such as tigers, and these records are often available through freedom of information laws.

Only one private entity has ever really been willing or able to track the privately owned exotic felids in the United States that exist either in areas without registration requirements or are held secretly. While the Feline Conservation Federation (FCF) is the only organization who has undertaken felid census work in the United States, the first census of the big cat population was actually completed in 1997 by Brian Werner, a researcher who later joined the FCF before publishing a follow-up census in 2005. In the 2005 census, Werner documented fewer than 5,000 big cats in all settings in the entirety of the United States; of the 1,830 big cats identified to be in private homes, the vast majority were tigers (1,129 animals, or 88.6%). Virtually no academic work has been done since Werner’s 2005 census to ascertain the true extent of big cat populations in the country. His numbers were cited in a World Wildlife Fund report discussing the country’s potential contribution to the black market tiger trade (Williamson & Henry, 2008), as well as repeatedly cited as the most “reasonable” extant population estimates in multiple publications by the prominent tiger researchers Nyhus & Tilson (2009; Nyhus et al., 2010). The FCF has continued Werner’s census work, publishing out a report in 2011 about the number of big cats in USDA-licensed facilities (Culver), of which 2,621 were identified as tigers. The FCF also undertook a census in 2016 that attempted to identify all big cats in the United States, including those that were “off-grid,” i.e., privately owned (Chambers, 2017). They determined a total population in the United States of slightly more than 5,000 big cats in all ownership settings, with tigers comprising almost half (2,330). While it is improbable that the 2016 FCF census managed to identify and include every privately owned big cat, it is likely that their big cat population numbers are more accurate than the higher claims repeated that are more frequently. (See Garner, 2018a for a longer discussion of why that is the case).

Only 554 of the 2,330 tigers identified in the 2016 FCF census resided outside of a zoo or sanctuary setting, a category which includes those used in circuses, films, or other production work in the Untied States, as well as privately owned animals. This extremely low number of tigers outside the zoo and sanctuary systems is at odds with the multiple thousands of tigers frequently claimed to exist by animal advocacy groups and members of the media. While there are no studies yet that could conclusively confirm a specific number of tigers within the United States, or prove that one number claimed to date is definitively ‘right’, there are a number of factors that suggest that the lower and more recent estimates of privately owned tiger populations are closer to the truth.

Additional evaluation appears to confirm the veracity of the data from the FCF censuses, and seems to validate their conclusion that tiger populations have been decreasing in the United States during the last decade. This is due in part to the the Captive Wildlife Safety Act (CWSA) passing in 2003, which prohibited the transport of big cats across state lines without a federal permit (Captive Wildlife Safety Act, 2003), as well as to the increase in the number of laws and regulations restricting or prohibiting private big cat ownership at both state and municipal levels since the beginning of the 2000s (Nyhus et al., 2009; IFAW, 2016; BCR 2018 big cat bans). The sanctuary industry has thoroughly documented that when the CWSA was fully implemented in 2007, it had an immediate impact. The law created a need for rehoming or rescuing a large number of big cats, and, longer-term, it kept the populations low as commercial breeding decreased as interstate commerce became less feasible (Baskin, 2015). Only four states (Alabama, Nevada, North Carolina, and Wisconsin) are currently without any laws related to the private ownership of big cats at the end of 2018 (Turpentine Creek, 2018), and all are likely to have relevant bills sponsored in their state legislatures during the 2019 legislative session. The sanctuary Big Cat Rescue publishes annual reports tracking the number of big cats in the US in need of rescue, as well as how many they were able to take; while they don’t report how many of each species needed rescue in a given year, their data shows that the number of cats needing placement since 2008 has dropped sharply. (Baskin, 2018a). Their reports note that in recent years, almost all of the big cats in need of rescue have come from other sanctuaries, zoos, or exhibitors that were closing, rather than private ownership settings (Baskin, 2015; Baskin, 2017) (for a further discussion of this trend, see Garner, 2018a).

Another indicator of the decreasing privately owned tiger population is the sharp drop in attacks and escapes that have occurred after the Captive Wildlife Safety Act passed in 2003. Big cats are one of the most dangerous exotic animals to keep in a captive setting, due to their size, pre-equipped weaponry, intelligence, and predatory natures; tigers are the species responsible for the largest fraction of any safety incident involving a captive big cat in any type of setting in the United States (Garner, 2018b). Since the year 2000, more than 350 incidents in which a captive big cat in the United States jeopardized human safety have occurred; almost half (175) of those total incidents involved tigers. (Garner, 2018b). Of those 175 incidents involving tigers, only 45 involved privately owned tigers, less than half the number of incidents that occurred in zoos during that same time period (Garner, n.d.). The number of incidents in all settings has decreased over the last ten years, but the number of incidents occurring in the private sector has dropped much more sharply and consistently than in zoo management settings [Figure 1].

Figure 1. Comparison of Big Cat Safety Incidents Over Time by Setting. From “Big Cat Safety Incidents 2000 - 2018” Garner, 2018b.

Click Image to View Full Size

This data is particularly relevant because of the implications about both the number of tigers as well as the total number of big cats believed to be in private hands. Of the approximately 2,000 big cats currently housed in zoos in the United States (Chambers, 2017), only 300 - 550 are tigers (Chambers, 2017, Tiger SSP, 2018). They have had 143 total incidents over the past 18 years (Garner, 2018b), just less than half of which (73) of which involved tigers. According to a compilation of the big cat incidents recorded by major organizations that track them (Garner, 2018b), private ownership situations have only had 130 incidents over the same period of time, 45 of which involved tigers.

Figure 2. Number of Safety Incidents Involving Tigers per Year by Setting.

Data from Garner, 2018d, unpublished.

Click image to view larger version.

It would be inconsistent for the private sector to have so many fewer incidents over time than zoos, if the private sector maintains a tiger population that is said to be at least fifteen times the size of the total zoo tiger population. Zoos have far more safety features incorporated into their big cat management: they have professionally constructed animal enclosures, trained staff, and extensive safety protocols that most private owners cannot match. And while zoos, with a relatively stable tiger population over time, see frequent safety incidents involving those tigers, the number of private ownership incidents per year dropped markedly around 2005 and has stayed very low for the last decade [Figure 2]. It is not logical that so few safety incidents would occur in private settings if there are so many more tigers residing there than in zoos, where they are managed with fewer safety features; the data implies that something has changed within the private sector to cause the sharp drop in safety incidents since the early 2000s, and it seems most likely to be the decrease in privately owned tiger populations indicated by the FCF census data.

As discussed in Garner, 2018a, “a case might be made that those incident numbers from private settings might be skewed to the low side, as incidents occurring in zoos are much more likely to be publicized and private owners might be inclined to hide incidents, especially if they’re keeping their animals secretly.” But that is exceedingly hard to do in today’s world, where everyone carries a smartphone with an internet connection and when “pet tigers” is a popular topic for the media to report on. Keeping a tiger secret in modern America means keeping it entirely off social media, as well as off the radar of anyone who lives nearby who might put online their theories or questions about what type of animal you own. Neither are the resources required to support keeping big cats easy to keep secret, as discussed in Garner, 2018a, and tigers are inherently noisy and odorous animals. Even if a private tiger owner has no visitors, says nothing about their pet tiger to friends, and posts no photos on social media, eventually most communities notice something odd and - figure out that they are keeping some type of exotic pet. Once tigers are noticed as being in private possession, the story usually comes to the attention of mainstream media very quickly (CNN, 2003; McMahon, 2017; CBS Los Angeles, 2018), and then to the attention of law enforcement and animal advocacy groups.

The probability that the low estimates of backyard tigers numbers are more correct is increased by a survey of current events from 2017 and 2018. While messaging about the captive tiger population that reports high numbers of animals in private hands tends to imply that there are a large number of exhibitors breeding and distributing cubs that are destined to be abandoned into the private sector after growing too old to be easily handled (Big Cat Rescue, n.d., Russo, 2015), one of the major animal advocacy groups that fights against private ownership of exotic animals is confident enough that that is no longer a reality to put it forth as evidence in a lawsuit. In their 2016 filing against Dade City’s Wild Things (DCWT), a zoo that bred tiger cubs for use in public interaction programs, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) stated that “DCWT plays a large role in the captive-tiger overpopulation crisis as one of the relatively few exhibitors [emphasis added] who are breeding cubs for public encounters and fueling the overpopulation problem” (PETA v. Dade City, 2016). PETA then adds that Dade City “maintains a waiting list for facilities wanting tiger cubs,” which implies that demand in the United States for tigers is higher than the available supply, i.e., that not many tiger cubs are being bred. This implication seems to be borne out by the fact that tiger cubs now being found while being smuggled into United States (presumably to go to private ownership situations) (Associated Press, 2018; Okungu, 2018). While illegal commercial activity with big cat cubs does appear to exist in shadier parts of the exhibition world (USA v Maldonado-Passage, 2018), incidents in which people are caught selling tiger cubs as pets now occur very infrequently (McMahon, 2017; USA v Maldonado-Passage, 2018). This is mirrored by the fact that sanctuaries around the country are reporting that the need for rescuing big cats is decreasing, and that they are visibly focusing their efforts on importing rescued big cats from other countries rather than taking in tigers domestically (Big Cat Rescue, 2018; Butzer 2018; Brulliard, 2017).

If it’s unlikely that there are tens of thousands of tigers in the entire United States, what about the high populations purported to be concentrated just in Texas or Florida? While both those states do allow legal tiger ownership as long as owners meet certain permitting or registration requirements (Turpentine Creek, 2018), the population numbers alleged in those states seem implausible. Florida and Texas have historically had the largest big cat populations in the United States, and according to the FCF 2016 census they still do have the highest concentrations of tigers in the country, but the numbers that census published are far lower than what has been claimed previously. Chambers identified 416 tigers across all ownership settings (zoos, sanctuaries, and “others”) in Florida, as well as 198 tigers living in Texas; these 614 identified tigers comprise only about one quarter of the 2,330 tigers the study identified in the entire country, but are much less than the 2,000 - 3,000 commonly claimed to live in in private settings in one or both of those states. If there were four times as many hidden tigers in those states as have been identified, there must be problems with regulatory enforcement or injury reporting, because it’s highly unlikely that that many tigers in a few highly concentrated areas wouldn’t be injuring people or escaping at the same rate as in other private ownership situations.

Consider also fact that both Florida and Texas experienced major natural disasters in 2017 and 2018: Hurricanes Michael and Irma in Florida and Hurricane Harvey in Texas. Yet no dead tigers were reported to found in the aftermath, nor were there incidents reported involving escaped pet tigers. Evacuating a large, dangerous predator in advance of a major emergency is complicated and time-consuming for even the most well-funded and professional zoos, as it requires not only the physical arrangements required to crate a big cat, but also transportation that is immediately available and a back-up location where a dangerous animal can be safely housed for an indefinite period of time. As a result, many established zoos and sanctuaries choose to shelter their animal in place when facing serious weather hazards rather than risk attempting to move them. Given that most private owners are not likely to have the same resources available to them that established professional facilities would, it is highly unlikely that people who owned tigers illegally in the areas affected by those hurricanes would have attempted to evacuate their cats. Each of the hurricanes in Florida and Texas during the last two years caused widespread property damage that would have demolished all but the most well-built containment and caused extensive flooding over large areas that would have drowned any animal unable to seek higher ground, yet there was not a single news report about dead or escaped tigers being found in the aftermath of any of the storms. The alleged large population of big cats living secretly in both states is considered by federal legislators and national animal advocacy groups to be a huge safety risk for first responders (IFAW, 2015; Baskin, 2018b), and so any incident in which the emergency response teams addressing the aftermath of these disasters could have potentially been put at risk by the existence of secret dangerous predators would absolutely have extremely newsworthy and would have been reported at a national level. If there are truly multiple thousands of tigers living in secret in one or both states, it makes no sense that not a single one was in an area impacted by any of those major natural disasters.

So How Many Tigers Are There in the US?

While it’s conceivable that there might have been multiple thousands of tigers living hidden in private situations in Texas or Florida near the end of the 1990s, all available information indicates that those claims inaccurate as of the end of 2018. The claims about tiger populations both in those states and in the nation as a whole appear to have escalated without any actual data, and what little data has been recently acquired seems to refute such claims. Many of the talking points repeated in 2018 appear to have come into existence through informal transmission over many years (Garner, 2018c). As a result these claims frequently contradict each other or make claims that are obviously untrue, such as that the Texas tiger population is larger than any other in the world (TWAS Intro Video; 2018) - even the giant tiger farms in Asia - or that there are free-roaming tigers in Texas (Olson, 2018). Given that so many of these numbers seem to have been repeatedly inflated without supporting data, and that the evolution of laws and regulations restricting ownership and transportation of big cats in the United States appears to have been successful at reducing private populations over the past twenty years, it’s likely that the real number of privately owned tigers is far lower than what is quoted as “common knowledge” in the United States today. A larger population of tigers in the U.S., especially if it is highly concentrated in just a couple of states, would result in very different data on attacks, escapes, and sightings.

A Selection of Current Captive Tiger Population Claims

  • “In the case of tigers, of the estimated 5000 in this country, only about 250 are pure bred subspecies and those are housed in AZA accredited zoos.” - Fact Sheet: Big Cat Public Safety Act (Big Cat Rescue, n.d.)

  • “By today’s environmental standards, a self-sustaining tiger population - based on 7,000 plus animals - would be considered a success story. However, when those 7,000 tigers are found in captivity - living outside of our public zoo system – it is considered a travesty.” The Wild Animal Sanctuary: The Captive Wildlife Crisis (The Wild Animal Sanctuary, 2017, para. 1)

  • “Taj is one of as many as 7,000 tigers living in the US either in zoos or privately owned, according to some estimates.” - James Jeffrey, BBC America (Jeffrey, 2018)

  • “It is estimated that between 5,000 and 7,000 tigers are kept as “pets” — more than exist in the wild.” Born Free: Ten Fast Facts about Exotic Pets (“Fast Facts”, 2012)

  • “In American backyards we have at least an estimated 5000-7000 tigers, (...) and these are completely excluding what you think of as a zoo.” - Heather Rally, Peta Foundation (Rally, 2017)

  • “With an estimated 5,000 tigers, the U.S. captive tiger population is on par with the captive tiger population of China (estimated to be over 5,000) and far exceeds the approximately 3,200 individuals believed to exist in the wild today.” - World Wildlife Fund: Tigers Among Us (World Wildlife Fund, 2010)

  • “There are 7,000 tigers in [the United States], more than live in the wild in the rest of the world.” - Tigers in America (Nimmo, n.d.)

  • “There are an estimated 5,000 – 7,000 tigers living in captivity today, with only about 400 of those living in Zoos. “ - Big Cat Alliance: The Big Cat Public Safety Act is Important to You (Heckman, 2018)

  • “There’s such a patchwork of laws regulating tiger ownership that no one actually knows how many tigers call America home. But the U.S. government and conservation and animal welfare groups estimate that between 5,000 and 10,000 do.” - The Washington Post (Brulliard, 2016)

  • “10,000 tigers are in private hands in this country right now.” Michelle Thew, Animal Protection Institute quoted in ABC News (ABC News, 2006)

  • “There are now more tigers in private hands in the U.S. than remain in the wild.” - Carson Barylak, International Fund for Animal Welfare (The Humane Society of the United States, 2017, para. 5)

  • “They also believe that there are currently more tigers living in captivity in Texas than in the wild, where their population is estimated to be around around 3,000.” - Care2 Petition (Graef, 2013)

  • “The largest population of tigers in the world is actually in private residences in Texas.” The Wild Animal Sanctuary Intro / Rules Video (TWAS Intro Video, n.d.)

  • “Animal population experts believe at least a couple thousand tigers live in the Lone Star State, which would make Texas the second-largest tiger population of any region in the world, behind only India.  While some of those big cats are roaming free and others are smuggled in from outside the country, many are actually living as pets.” KTRH News Radio (Olson, 2018)

  • “Ron Tilson, Conservation Director for the Minnesota Zoo, states unequivocally that there are more tigers in backyards across the U.S. than in all of the zoos put together.” - The Wildcat Sanctuary: Captive Wildlife Laws (“Captive Wildlife Laws”, n.d., “What is the Captive Wildlife Crisis”, para. 2)

  • “How many of these cats are out there right now, in backyards, in farms, or in whatever ad-hoc facility someone designs to keep them in? ‘Well over 10,000,’ says Barylak — and that's mostly tigers with a good number of lions and smaller groups of leopards and other wild cats.” International Fund for Animal Welfare, as quoted in Business Insider (Loria, 2016)

  • “An estimated 10,000 big cats are kept as pets and for profit in places like basements, backyards and roadside zoos throughout the U.S. today. In fact, the U.S. is thought to be home to more captive tigers than are found in the wild.” Big Cat Public Safety Act: International Fund For Animal Welfare (IFAW, n.d.)


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  • Area Shelter Gets Seven New Tigers. (2003, January 20). My Plainview. Retrieved May 23, 2018, from

  • Baskin, C. (2018a, March 16). 2017 Annual Report. Retrieved December 23, 2018, from

  • Baskin, C. (2018b, January 11). Law Enforcement. Retrieved December 15, 2018, from

  • Baskin, C. (2017, January 12). 2016 Annual Report. Retrieved December 23, 2018 from

  • Baskin, C. (2015, May 13). Why Isn’t Big Cat Rescue Rescuing More Big Cats? Retrieved December 23, 2018, from

  • Big Cat Rescue. (n.d.). Fact Sheet: Big Cat Public Safety Act (H.R.1818 / S.2990) (Publication). Retrieved December 15, 2018, from Big Cat Rescue website:

  • Big Cat Rescue. (2018, May 21). Circus Rey Gitano. Retrieved December 23, 2018, from

  • Born Free. (2012). Get The Facts: Ten Fast Facts about Exotic “Pets”. Retrieved December 15, 2018, from

  • Brennan, D. S. (2003, June 1). Raid Uncovers Extent of Traffic in Big Cats. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved May 23, 2018, from Raid Uncovers Extent of Traffic in Big Cats

  • Butzer, S. (2018, December 21). Keenesburg's Wild Animal Sanctuary takes in lion, tiger from Saipan zoo after typhoon. The Denver Channel. Retrieved December 23, 2018, from

  • Brulliard, K. (2017, January 19). One problem with shutting down the circus: Where will the animals go? Washington Post. Retrieved December 23, 2018, from

  • Brulliard, K. (2016, April 6). Americas Shockingly Huge Tiger Population Is Finally Getting More Oversight. The Washington Post. Retrieved December 15, 2018, from

  • Captive Wildlife Safety Act, 2003, 16 USC 3371

  • Chambers, K. (2017). 2016 Wild Feline Census. Retrieved December 14, 2018, from

  • Culver, L. (2011). How many cats are in USDA licensed facilities in the US? (pp. 1-6). Feline Conservation Federation.

  • Endangered Species Act, 1973, 16 USC 35

  • Federal Register, 18, 66 § Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; U.S. Captive-Bred Intersubspecific Crossed or Generic Tigers (2016).

  • Garner, R. (2018a, December 24). Are There Tens Of Thousands Of Big Cats In American Backyards? Retrieved December 27, 2018, from

  • Garner, R. (2018b, December 15). Big Cat Safety Issues In The United States: 2000 - 2018. Retrieved December 23, 2018, from

  • Garner, R. (2018c, May 23). Media Claims About The Tiger Population In The United States Are Frequently Exaggerated. Retrieved December 23, 2018, from

  • Garner, R. (2018d). [Big Cat Safety Incident Database 2000 - 2018]. Unpublished raw data.

  • Graef, A. (2013, March 19). There Are More Captive Tigers in Texas Than in the Wild. Retrieved December 27, 2018, from

  • Hauser, C. (2016, April 11). Number of Tigers in the Wild is Rising, Wildlife Groups Say. New York Times. Retrieved December 29, 2018, from

  • International Fund for Animal Welfare. (n.d.). Big Cat Public Safety Act. Retrieved December 27, 2018, from

  • International Fund for Animal Welfare. (2015, December 14). Congress briefing urges support for Big Cat Public Safety Act [Press release]. Retrieved December 27, 2018, from

  • IUCN 2018. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2018-2. Downloaded on 14 November 2018.

  • Jeffrey, J. (2018, June 11). Does the US have a pet tiger problem? BBC America. Retrieved December 15, 2018, from

  • Kelley, E. (2003, March 24). Powerful Pets. The Des Moines Register. Retrieved May 22, 2018, from

  • Lions and Tigers and Bears in the Backyard. (2006, October 25). ABC News. Retrieved December 15, 2018, from

  • Loria, K. (2016, March 17). Armed police freed 11 tigers, 3 lions, and 3 bears from captivity — and that was just the beginning. Business Insider. Retrieved December 23, 2018, from

  • McMahon, P. (2017, October 20). Tiger trouble? Man accused of illegally buying Bengal cub for rapper Tyga. South Florida Sun Sentinel. Retrieved December 27, 2018, from

  • Nimmo, B. (n.d.). Tigers in America - Rescuing Tigers & Supporting Sanctuaries. Retrieved December 15, 2018, from

  • Nyhus, P. J., & Tilson, R. L. (2009). The Conservation Value of Tigers: Separating Science from Fiction. Journal of the Wildcat Conservation and Legal Aid Society, 1, 29-41.

  • Nyhus, P. J., Ambrogi, M., Dufrane, C., Shoemaker, A., & Tilson, R. (2009). The status and evolution of laws and policies regulating privately owned tigers in the United States. Journal of the WildCat Conservation Legal Aid Society, 1, 47-64.

  • Nyhus, P. J., Tilson, R., & Hutchins, M. (2010). Thirteen Thousand and Counting: How Growing Captive Tiger Populations Threaten Wild Tigers. In Tigers of the World (2nd ed., pp. 223-240). Elsevier.

  • Okungu, J. (2018, May 1). Tiger cub found stuffed in gym bag at US-Mexico border. ABC News. Retrieved December 27, 2018, from

  • Olson, C. (Writer). (2018, May 2). Many Texans Keep Tigers as Pets [Television broadcast]. In Texas News. Houston, Texas: KTRH News Radio. Retrieved December 27, 2018, from

  • Oversight of Facilities a Concern. (2005, April 12) The Los Angeles Times. p.273 Retrieved May 16, 2018, from

  • People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Inc. v. Dade City's Wild Things, Inc., Stearns Zoological Rescue & Rehab Center, Inc., D/B/A Dade City's Wild Things, Kathyrn P Stearns, and Randall E. Stearns (Middle District Court of Florida Tampa Division December 10, 2016).

  • Rally, H. (2017, June 19). Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh My! The Captive Wildlife Crisis in our Backyard. Lecture presented in Vermont Law School, Royalton. Retrieved December 15, 2018, from

  • Russo, C. M. (2015, June 09). Tiger Selfies Aren't Just Stupid, They're Cruel. Here's Why. Retrieved December 27, 2018, from

  • Siderius, C. (2002, February 28). Catch Those Tigers. Dallas Observer. Retrieved December 25, 2018, from

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Rachel is an educator and animal science writer. With prior professional experience in zookeeping, visitor education, shelter behavior management, and more, she works to translate pertinent field-specific knowledge into comprehensive explanations about current animal related topics.