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How To Help Animals In Captivity, Since 'Tiger King' Didn't Give Much Detail


Tiger King has been the saving grace for bored Netflix-watchers stuck inside during the coronavirus quarantine. But while the meme-worthy docuseries gives viewers plenty to think about — like unsolved disappearances, murder-for-hire, and lots of questionable decision-marking — one important aspect that was glossed over was the tigers. If you're wondering how to help animals in captivity after watching Tiger King, you're definitely not the only one.

While it was lightly touched upon, big cats — as well as many other types of animals — held in captivity is a huge point of contention in the United States. If you’re itching to do some good after learning more about this mostly hidden world of exotic animal ownership, there are plenty of ways to help. Donating to organizations, avoiding private zoos and “sanctuaries,” urging legislation to pass The Big Cat Public Safety Act, and being mindful of the products you use are all easy and worthy ways to make a difference.

So, as you’re sharing your Tiger King memes and thinking about pulling together a Joe Exotic costume for Halloween, you can also take some time to help the true stars of the series by supporting efforts toward animal conservation and freedom from captivity.

1. Donate

Whether it's to an organization like Panthera, a global cat conservation organization dedicated to stopping poaching or The Wildcat Sanctuary, which provides homes for big cats that were purchased as pets, supporting a cause that saves captive animals and helps ensure wild animals stay in their natural habitats is one of the most direct things you can do to help these in-need breeds.

2. Learn The Ethics Of Visiting Animals

Roadside zoos, like those see in Tiger King, are usually privately owned and not held to the same standards as public zoos. If you do visit a zoo, make sure it's accredited, and only participate in animal-friendly activities that are supported by animal welfare organizations.

Helen H. Richardson/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images/Denver Post/Getty Images

Things that are generally considered not cool to do? Most animal handling opportunities (like in busy city squares), rides on non-domestic animals (like elephants), and (just in case this didn't sink in while watching Tiger King) playing with cubs — no matter how cute they look.

3. Help Pass The Big Cat Public Safety Act

Odds are, you've heard about the Big Cat Public Safety Act. The bill is currently pending in Congress. If passed, it would make it illegal for unqualified people and businesses to own big cats in the United States. If you support this idea, reaching out to legislative offices to help the bill get passed is one way to pitch in on the cause. Head to the Humane Society website for scripts of what to say on the phone or in emails to help move the process along.

4. Shop Cruelty-Free

If you want to implement protection of all types of animals into your day-to-day life, you can try taking a look at the products you're using. In addition to avoiding things made from animals (like shells, seahorses, teeth, or bones), you can also stay away from anything tested on animals. You can also support the cause to help end animal testing by donating to Cruelty Free International.