Friday, April 17, 2015

Approved TN bill says big #cats need to be micro-chipped

Microchips would be required under an approved Tennessee bill for big cats.
Tiger Haven would be among those entities affected. April 16, 2015 



(WBIR - ROANE COUNTY) - A bill awaiting Gov. Bill Haslam's signature will require all big cats in the state, like lions and tigers, to be micro-chipped.

Senate Bill 1273 passed the state house Monday and if signed, will add regulations to a couple of East Tennessee groups.

The chips are responsible for identification. That way, keepers can know who is who. One East Tennessee group has been adapting to this plan, even before it hit the Capitol.

Tiger Haven, an animal sanctuary for big cats, works closely with University of Tennessee Veterinary Hospital, and when they take the big cats in for veterinary care, vets implant a microchip as a matter of routine. "We have been putting these chips in for quite some time. We don't knock an animal down just to put the chip in. Probably 75 percent of our animals are probably already chipped," said Tiger Haven director Mary Lynn Haven.

She said the group works to make surrounding neighbors feel safe. "We have really tried to help the community feel safer. I don't know if they do or not, but we have done everything we can," said Haven.

That includes adding an extra layer of security through more fencing and more microchips. The new law also applies to zoos around the state.

The Knoxville Zoo also implants the chips in many of its animals, and could start doing that for even more of them. "It's something we are doing already. Something we are complying with. But it's for sure going to make us give a second glance to all of our records and clean up a little bit if there is somebody who got missed through time. Or sometimes these transponders can move through skin or sometimes drop out," said Phil Colclough, director of Animal Collections and Conservation at the zoo.
Within the coming months, Tiger Haven expects to have every animal chipped and ready. "I have always thought it was a good idea. So if you think it's a good idea for somebody else you should do it yourself," said Haven.

Under the approved bill, anyone who has a big cat prior to July of this year and continues to own them must microchip the animal. They have up to six months to make that happen.

The bill is cosponsored by Sen. Ken Yager, R-Harriman, and Rep. Kent Calfee, R-Kingston.


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