Tennessee Regulations on Wild and Exotic Felines
Wildlife Resources Agency
P.O. Box 40747
Nashville, TN 37204
All wildlife is classified as Class I - Class V. State has housing and transportation rules for possession of any wild animal.
Class I felines (inherently dangerous) are lions, tigers, leopards, jaguars, cheetahs, and cougars and may only be possessed by zoos, circuses and commercial propagators. Two years of experience or scoring at least 70% on a test is required. Test is on handling, habits, health care and housing. Have caging, sanitation, and housing standards. Cages must be inspected by TWRA before animals will be permitted. One acre is required for personal possession or 3 acres for commercial propagators. Felines under 25 pounds and between 8 weeks and 3 months are allowed public contact for one hour for every 8 hours.
Bobcats are considered a native species and require a class II (native) permit. Nature centers may have bobcats for educational purposes. Import permit is required before bringing bobcats into the state.
All other felines, bobcat hybrids, and domestic hybrids fall under Class III, which does not require a permit. Nature centers, rehabilitation centers, and educational exhibits are prohibited from possessing Class III felines other than bona fide zoos.
The state issues the following permits.
Personal Possession - Class I is $150 per animal up to $1,000 per facility and Class II is $10 per animal up to $100 per facility
Commercial Propagator - $1,000 per facility for Class I wildlife
Propagator - $100 per facility for Class II bobcats
Importation - $10 per shipment or $100 per year
Temporary Exhibitor - $100 for 30 days
Permanent Exhibitor - $500 per year per facility
Zoos, Nature Centers, Rehabilitation Centers, and Educational Exhibits Certified As Nonprofit - Free
Zoos are exempt from permit requirements if they are AZA accredited or official municipal zoo with 100,000+ visitors a year. There is a Rehab permit for native bobcat.
In 2011, Tennessee passed a law allowing Roane County officials to attend inspections of Class I facilities.