Is it Legal to Own a Pet Tiger in Pennsylvania?
Ryan Zavodnick | May 16, 2020 | Pennsylvania Law
NOTE: We only handle cases involving accidents and injuries. This article is for informational purposes only. Information found in the article does not constitute as formal legal advice and does not create an attorney/client relationship. We cannot help you beyond the information provided below if you are interested in getting a pet tiger.
Tigers are beautiful, powerful animals that can also be deadly. They are not domesticated pets, even if they are purchased when they are young and kept as pets. There are plenty of instances in which a pet tiger suddenly attacked its owner or another person.
Pennsylvania does allow individuals to own pet tigers. However, they must obtain a permit and meet all requirements for owning an exotic animal. If a person can afford to purchase a tiger and is willing to follow strict regulations, they can own a tiger legally in Pennsylvania.
How To Own An Exotic Animal in Pennsylvania
The Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes define “exotic wildlife” as including, but not limited to, tigers, jaguars, bears, lions, coyotes, cougars, cheetahs, leopards, and wolves. The state may issue permits to individuals to purchase and possess exotic wildlife. However, there are restrictions and requirements.
The state will not issue a permit until the person provides sufficient evidence that they can care for and house the tiger in a manner that protects the public. Furthermore, the person must submit a statement from their local government agency stating that owning and housing a tiger does not violate any local ordinances or regulations.
Furthermore, a person who owns a tiger may not release the tiger into the wild. The tiger must be housed and secured according to the regulations for owning and housing exotic pets. Also, the person must exercise due care in preventing a public attack.
Violations of the possession permits section of the code can result in a summary offense of the third degree. Subsequent violations result in a summary offense of the fifth degree. Each day the person fails to comply with the requirements of the code section is a separate offense.
You Could Be Held Liable For Any Damages Caused by Your Tiger
A tiger owner can be held liable for injuries and damages caused by a tiger attack. If the tiger bites, scratches, attacks, or otherwise injures a person or another animal, the victim may sue the pet tiger for damages and losses.
Damages and losses associated with an animal attack include, but are not limited to:
- Medical expenses and bills
- Loss of income and benefits
- Emotional, mental, and physical pain and suffering
- Scarring, disfigurement, and disability
- Loss of enjoyment of life or decrease in quality of life
- Counseling and therapy
- Other financial losses associated with the attack or the person’s injuries
Because tigers are considered exotic animals, a homeowner’s insurance policy is unlikely to cover damages from a tiger attack. The owner would need to purchase a special insurance rider or an insurance policy, which may be expensive.
If the tiger owner does not have insurance to cover the attack, the owner would be personally liable for the victim’s damages and losses. The victim could sue the tiger owner seeking a personal judgment and then proceed to collect on the judgment.
Tiger Attacks Can Cause Severe Injuries
Tiger attacks can result in life-threatening injuries and permanent impairments. Even dogs, though much smaller than tigers, can cause devastating injuries when they attack humans. A tiger attack can result in injuries such as:
- Scarring and disfigurement,
- Nerve damage and tissue damage,
- Broken bones and fractures,
- Facial injuries,
- Head and brain injuries,
- Puncture wounds,
- Infections and other complications, and
In Pennsylvania, even dog owners may be held liable for a dog bite or dog attack. It does not matter if the dog has never bitten anyone before this incident. The same is true for tiger owners, even if such attacks are far less common.
However, proving fault and liability in an animal attack claim can be difficult. The animal owner may not be the only party liable for the injuries. A landlord or property owner may also be liable, depending on the circumstances.
A personal injury lawyer can investigate the animal attack to determine who is responsible for the victim’s injuries. An attorney can also help victims document physical, emotional, and financial damages to increase the chance the victim receives maximum value for an animal attack claim.
What Should You Do After an Animal Attack?
Whether you were attacked by a tiger or an aggressive dog, you should report the attack to the police department or local animal control. If the animal is an exotic animal, report the attack to the Pennsylvania Game Commission. Seek medical treatment immediately to document injuries. It can be helpful to take photographs of injuries after the attack and throughout your recovery.
Keep copies of all documents and reports. Contact a personal injury lawyer to learn about your legal rights and to discuss options for filing a claim for damages.