Kansas Lays Down The Law After Hilderbrand Case
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Kansas Lays Down The Law After Hilderbrand Case

18 April 2006
by Anai Rhoads Ford

www.AnaiRhoads.org - Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius signed a bill Monday that effectively bans any ownership and possession of wild animals such as bears, bobcats, jaguars, leopards, lions, tigers, and all venomous snakes, as pets.

Bill S 578 states that all exhibitors will be required to have a United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) license in addition to state regulations which include $250,000 in liability insurance and a no-nonsense policy that expects those who supervise and/or own the animals to keep them from ever coming in contact with the general public.

The demand to create such a ban became more prominent after the tragic death of 17 year-old Haley Hilderbrand made headlines in the summer of 2005.

Hilderbrand was attacked, as she posed for high school photos, by a 7 year-old wild Bengal tiger that resided at the Lost Creek Animal Sanctuary.

"This legislation was not just a reaction to Haley's death, several incidents have occurred over the years in Kansas and in many other states both children and adults have been killed or seriously injured. Haley's death was just the most recent tragedy and hopefully the last in Kansas," Hilderbrand's parents said in a recent statement.

The sanctuary, which began in 1994, was owned and operated by Doug Billingsly. It provided 80 acres for a menagerie of exotic and wild animals, including a rare-cross between a lion and a tiger.

There have been six serious attacks since 1999 in the State. Since 1990, in the United States alone, big cats have killed 13 people and mauled nearly 100 others.

There are approximately 10,000 tigers held as pets in the U.S. -- and only an estimated 4,900 in the wild. According to the Humane Society of the United State (HSUS), accredited zoos house about 200 cheetahs, 170 cougars, 90 jaguars, 140 leopards, 300 lions, and 450 tigers.

2006 Anai Rhoads Ford. Reproduction must be authorised in writing by author only. Altering, redistributing, or selling this material is strictly prohibited.

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