Tiger King on Netflix shocked and entertained us all by exposing the underbelly of exotic animal zoos. If you haven’t see it yet, buckle the hell up, as you’ll be introduced to cult leaders, drug king pins, alleged black widows, and the man of the hour himself, the self-proclaimed “gay, gun-toting redneck,” Joe Exotic, a former candidate for president and current resident of county jail. I know that most of you, like me, were wondering as the story got crazier and crazier by the minute, what exactly happened with that piece of federal legislation, the Big Cat Public Safety Act? Legal research has got you.
Congress.gov is a great, free, online resource for looking at what exactly has happened with bills before the federal legislature. Generally, it takes multiple sessions for a bill to become law, as most never make it out of committee (shout out to School House Rocks!), and (SPOILER ALERT) that has certainly been the case for the Big Cat Public Safety Act. We can easily search across all legislation (from 1973 onwards) for the title by switching the search bar at the top of the screen from current legislation to all legislation.
Searching for the title “Big Cat Public Safety Act” yield us six results. We can see from the result set that the bill has been introduced in the house and senate for the past three sessions. Fun fact: our very own Senator Richard Blumenthal has been a sponsor! There is lots of other information you can gain by looking at the past bills. From here you can see what actions have been taken and access some congressional documents related to the bill if they’ve been created. In our case, the Big Cat Public Safety Act remains firmly stuck in committee.
From this site, you can also see all the bills currently pending before the legislature relating to a particular subject matter by clicking on Browse at the top of the screen and then Legislation by Subject and Policy Area. In this case, looking at the policy area Animals shows that there are 76 bills currently being considered.
After binging the madness that is the Tiger King in only a few days, I’m not sure exactly what moral lesson I was meant to absorb, but hopefully we can all agree that treating our fellow species well is a worthwhile goal and by better familiarizing ourselves with resources like Congress.gov, we are better able to determine how our legislators are getting the job done.