Michigan House passes legislation approving breeding of large carnivores at accredited zoos

Rep. Albert, John Ball Zoo applaud approval

The Michigan Capitol Building in Lansing

LANSING, Mich. - The Michigan House of Representatives passed a bill Tuesday that would establish high standards for the breeding of large carnivores. 

The bill promotes conservation and animal safety by allowing any zoo accredited by the the Association of Zoos & Aquariums to breed large carnivores. Organizations that are not accredited by the AZA will be required to meet specific criteria outlined in House Bill 5778. 

Lawmakers voted 55-54 to allow large carnivore breeding in Michigan. The animals included in the bill are lions, tigers, bears and other large cats. Michigan currently prohibits breeding such species. The bill would grant breeding licenses for those who intend to use the animals in an education or exhibit setting.

“I applaud my colleagues for taking this important step toward animal conservation by establishing tough, uniform standards for those who wish to breed large carnivores in Michigan,” said Rep. Thomas Albert (R-MI 86). “House Bill 5778 will keep out bad actors while promoting best practices in conservation and breeding, and it’s a piece of legislation we should all be proud of.”

The legislation would:

  • Provide a framework for making sure animals receive high-quality care and ensure the responsible breeding of large carnivores.
  • Put patron and animal safety first by requiring zoos that breed large carnivores to provide secure animal enclosures and habitats.
  • Require zoos that want to breed a large carnivore to have proper housing and care for animals, emergency plans in place and trained staff.

“We commend the House and Rep. Albert for their leadership and dedication to conservation and protecting wildlife and endangered species,” said Peter D’Arienzo, John Ball Zoo CEO. “The John Ball Zoo is proud to be accredited by the AZA and we are committed to these high standards to ensure our animals receive the quality care they need. This framework is modeled on best practices by the AZA and will allow leading zoos to have conservation breeding programs that ensure the preservation of endangered species and large carnivores.”

AZA-accredited zoos are evaluated to make sure they meet AZA’s standards for animal management and care, including living environments, social groupings, health and nutrition. To maintain AZA accreditation, zoos must go through the review process every five years. 

The legislation awaits approval by the state Senate.

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