The tragic death of 17-year-old Haley Hilderbrand, a Labette County High School student who was mauled while having her senior picture taken with a “tame” tiger, was a wake-up call for Kansas. The 2006 Legislature responded appropriately by restricting the possession of “dangerous regulated animals.” Today, there are new efforts to weaken those laws that keep both the exotic animals and Kansas communities safe.

All exotic animals, even those born and raised in captivity, retain their basic instincts. They can cause serious injury or death to those who are not trained to care for them. Some can also spread diseases to humans and other animals. Sadly, the animals themselves often suffer at the hands of owners who lack the knowledge or resources to safely house them or meet their specialized needs. First responders are called to capture escaped animals, adding to the taxpayer burden. That is why HSLF of Kansas works to strengthen the Dangerous Regulated Animals Act to limit the private ownership of dangerous exotic wild animals by individuals and companies, such as private petting zoos.