LANSING, Mich. — State Sen. Mike Nofs, R-Battle Creek, co-sponsored legislation Thursday that would allow for five Michigan zoos to breed large carnivores in order to protect the species.
“Senate Bill 658 allows for the responsible breeding of large carnivores in our zoos,” Nofs said. “This practice was previously banned due to the inhumane practices of some small roadside attractions. The bill will allow for highly accredited zoos like Binder Park to facilitate appropriate breeding opportunities that are vital to the conservation of many endangered species.”
The legislation would allow five zoos that are members of the American Association of Zoo and Aquariums in Michigan to breed large carnivores. Binder Park Zoo in Battle Creek would be part of the five institutions covered in the legislation, along with Children’s Zoo at Celebration Square in Saginaw, John Ball Zoo in Grand Rapids, Potter Park Zoo in Lansing and the Detroit Zoo.
Binder Park Zoo President and CEO Diane Thompson praised the proposal.
“This is an important issue for the five AZA (Association of Zoos and Aquariums) that has been of concern for a number of years,” Thompson said. “We are pleased that Senator Nofs is co-sponsoring this vital piece of legislation and value his commitment to our community and the state as a whole. This legislation will have a significant positive impact on endangered large carnivores.”
Large carnivores covered by the bill include lions, tigers, cheetahs, leopards, jaguars, polar bears, black bears, brown bears and grizzly bears. Other institutions may breed these species if they comply with all the specified criteria, such as public safety, animal welfare, veterinary care and conservation.
SB 658 has been referred to the Senate Agriculture Committee.