Can YOU Be The “Tiger King” of Washington State?
I don't know why you would want to, but COULD you become the Washington State Tiger King? You have the land, the experience, and the money to do it but could you? The answer is more complicated than you think.
Where Are Tigers Legal to Own?
There are many states that have no or limited restrictions on owning big cats. "There are more pet tigers in the United States — approximately 5,000 — than there are in the wild" according to a H&P law website exploring that question. They also say that "ownership of a pet tiger is legal or at least unregulated in eight states: Alabama, Delaware, Nevada, North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia, and Wisconsin."
Where Can I Own a Tiger with a Permit?
There are states that have regulations against owning big cats unless you have a permit. H&P Law says, "in 14 other states, a permit is required in order to legally own a tiger." That means almost "half of the states in America allow the legal ownership of pet tigers." The Bustle.com identifies some of these states as "Oklahoma, Texas, Idaho, Montana, Arizona, Pennsylvania, Missouri, Indiana, Mississippi, Maine, North Dakota, and South Dakota."
Where Are Tigers Banned for Personal Ownership?
These are the states where big cats are banned: California, Washington, Oregon, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, Iowa, Illinois, Ohio, Kentucky, Georgia, South Carolina, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts. So, is that the end of your dream to be Washington's "Tiger King?" There is one way it is possible, because it exists today.
Where Are Tigers Kept Legally in Washington State?
There is place named the Wild Field Advocacy Center that is located in Shelton Washington and has tigers, bobcats, lynx, and a leopard. On their website they say are "providing a safe haven for displaced wild cats and their hybrids is the Wild Felid Advocacy Center's primary function. As a forever home to each cat placed in our care, we take the responsibility seriously to give them the best chance at living a healthy, peaceful, comfortable, and enjoyable life."
How Can Harstine Island Wild Can Sanctuary Exist in Washington?
"The Wild Felid Advocacy Center of Washington is a 501(c)3 non-profit, run by a volunteer Board of Directors, and has an active volunteer program to assist in most phases of operation. We are licensed and inspected regularly by the US Department of Agriculture under its Animal Welfare Act." They also say there are "no paid staff, so resources strictly benefit the cats. We receive no State or Federal funding and rely on the kind donations of the public and businesses who value our mission. Our operating budget is roughly $60,000.00 per year."
Is That the Answer?
If you want to have big cats like tigers in your life, the sanctuary in Shelton is a good blueprint on how to make it happen in Washington State. You could try to create a licensed sanctuary of your own or go volunteer to the Harstine Island Wild Cat Sanctuary. In Washington it is not possible to benefit from big cats, but if you are determined you can help those big cats benefit from you. That makes you a "Tiger King" in my mind.