Tigers Shevar and Sharukh at LIONSROCK

Protecting tigers

#BreakTheViciousCycle across the globe 

Learn more

FOUR PAWS works to protect big cats in the US, Europe, and South Africa

Thousands of big cats live in very poor conditions due to commercial trade in circuses, zoos, and private ownership all across the world today. FOUR PAWS believes that big cats should not be kept as pets or for entertainment. These wild animals suffer in captivity under inadequate keeping conditions including lack of expert care, frequent traveling, harsh training, and intensive interaction with humans. 

The issues

Problems facing big cats in captivity and the wild

Danger of Extinction

Protection in the age of mass extinction

Threats like climate change, habitat destruction, biodiversity loss, and wildlife trade gravely impact the survival of all big cat species; the world has already lost 90% of its wild tiger population. This is why we must protect and strengthen the US Endangered Species Act.

Captive Breeding

The commercial trade of big cats

Big cats are bred for selfies, cub petting exhibits, walk-with opportunities, circus shows, or kept as pets. As long as it is profitable to breed them, the demand will continue to grow. We must #BreakTheViciousCycle

Killed for the Wildlife Trade

The illegal trade and use in traditional medicine

The trade in big cats and their parts is an international problem. FOUR PAWS exposes the role that Europe and South Africa play in supporting the strong demand from Asia for big cat parts. Read more about #RuthlessTrade

Protecting Tigers in the US

The Big Cat Public Safety Act

After years of campaigning by big cat activists, the Big Cat Public Safety Act (BCPSA) was finally passed by Congress and signed into law by President Biden on December 20, 2022.

The private ownership of big cats is a huge animal welfare and human safety issue. Between 5,000 – 10,000 big cats are estimated to be in private ownership in the U.S.1  However, the actual number is unknown, as historically there has been no comprehensive federal regulatory system in place documenting the number of big cats nor the incidents that occur between big cats and humans. 

The BCPSA is a huge step forward for both big cats and the public. The Act will require private owners to register the animals they already have, while prohibiting them from breeding, selling, or acquiring more animals. It will stop the mass breeding of lions, tigers, and other big cats by banning direct contact between the public and big cats, which will put an end to the incredibly cruel “cub petting” operations throughout the U.S. In 2022, FOUR PAWS USA, in collaboration with NYU, published new research revealing the dire consequences of "cub-petting” and its incredibly harmful impacts on big cats.

Until now, state laws were responsible for regulating the ownership of big cats, and the laws varied wildly from one state to the next. The passage of this new federal law will ban the private ownership of big cats across all 50 states, and it will end the exploitation of tigers, lions, leopards, jaguars, and other captive big cats across the country.

The Endangered Species Act

Passed in December of 1973, The US Endangered Species Act (ESA) is a groundbreaking piece of federal legislation which protects threatened or endangered wildlife, fish, and plants, including tigers, lions, and several other big cats. The ESA has led to the successful recovery of many prominent species, such as the bald eagle, while also highlighting the continued need for protection of vulnerable wildlife, such as tigers, elephants, and other core species that FOUR PAWS provides homes for at our sanctuaries.   

FOUR PAWS is  a member of an unprecedented coalition of agencies, organizations, and nonprofits all coming together to honor the conservation legacy and success of this legislative milestone. Learn more about the coalition and the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the U.S. Endangered Species Act. 

Tiger Shevar at LIONSROCK

Protecting Big Cats Globally

Our #BreakTheViciousCycle Campaign

FOUR PAWS is fighting to ban the commercial trade of ALL big cats in South Africa

South Africa is intensively farming and commercially trading big cats. The growing exploitation includes not only indigenous species such as lions and leopards, but also exotic species like tigers and jaguars.

Big cats are being traded both legally and illegally, fueling an international market for traditional medicine products and so-called luxury items. This contributes to the decline of the species in the wild and a worldwide biodiversity crisis.

As long as there is trade, every big cat has a price on its head.

Sign our petition to #BreakTheVicious Cycle


European Tiger Trade

FOUR PAWS has been fighting for years to end the global exploitation of big cats. Our research and undercover investigations have revealed that the lucrative commercial trade of captive tigers is happening throughout Europe as well.

Shockingly, tigers born in captivity in Europe can still be traded for commercial purposes like circuses or for private keeping and for photo opportunities. To make matters worse, no legal authority or country knows how many tigers are currently kept in the European Union. Help us ban this #RuthlessTrade.

Help us ban the tiger trade in the EU


Price of a live tiger on the black market


Price of a liter of tiger wine on the black market


Price of a kilogram of tiger bones on the black market

FOUR PAWS demands

  • A ban on selling wild animals at fairs and exhibitions
  • A ban on private ownership and public contact with big cats and bears
  • Improvements and enforcement of legal standards regarding keeping conditions for wild animals, particularly:
    - Criteria regarding animal protection and appropriate conditions for keeping wild animals
    - Criteria for potential dangers to both people and animals
    - Criteria with regard to risk factors in the areas of nature protection and the protection of species
  • A ban on the import of animals captured in the wild
  • Compulsory registration for current private keepers
Tiger resting on a rock at our LIONSROCK Big Cat Sanctuary

Learn more about our work to protect tigers


Break The Vicious Cycle

FOUR PAWS is fighting to ban the commercial trade of ALL big cats in South Africa

Tiger Fangio at Al Ma'wa

Celebrating the Endangered Species Act on its 50th Anniversary

FOUR PAWS is a member of an unprecedented coalition of agencies, organizations, and nonprofits all coming together to honor the conservation legacy and success of this legislative milestone


#BreakTheViciousCycle Milestones

Celebrating achievements and accomplishments in the fight against the big cat trade in South Africa