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An end to tiger selfies in New York.

"Selfies with Tigers" sounds like the title of a children's book, or the tagline for a low-budget documentary. Actually, tiger selfies (photos in which people pose alongside the giant cats) are the latest online trend, and the target of a bill that has passed through both houses of the New York State Assembly.

The bill, yet to be signed by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, targets traveling fairs and roadside zoos that allow patrons to pose with large cats, including lions, tigers, and leopards. If signed into law, those who touch the large felines could be fined up to $500, much to the chagrin of a small subset of online daters. Supposedly--you just can't make this stuff up--it's become trendy for men to post tiger selfies on their online dating site profiles as a way of distinguishing themselves from other potential suitors.

New York Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal didn't know about this online trend when she introduced the legislation in March, instead citing safety concerns as the basis for her legislation. "Though the photos may be cute and the animals may look sweet and fluffy, they are dangerous wild animals capable of serious violence, and the public should not be permitted to come into such close contact with them," Rosenthal said in a statement to the International Fund for Animal Welfare. "Though some claim that these photo ops contribute to wildlife rescue or conservation, that's empty rhetoric that disregards the real danger here. My bill will protect the public and help keep big cats and other wild animals in safe conditions."

Animal rights activists hope the legislation will have a second benefit--drawing attention to the archaic roving circuses that transport wild animals around the county. "Hopefully, people will realize that it doesn't say anything positive about yourself to pay to pose next to a wild animal in captivity," Kelly Donvan, a program officer with the International Fund for Animal Welfare, told the New York Post.

Unfortunately, the bill draws the line at cats, leaving other animals at the mercy of dudes looking to attract a hot date by posing with a circus slave. "They can still pose with bears and monkeys," Assemblywoman Rosenthal said. "They just have to take big cats off their list."

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Title Annotation:CALL OF THE WILD
Publication:Earth Island Journal
Geographic Code:1U2NY
Date:Sep 22, 2014
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