Whether you wish to exhibit felid species in a zoo, purchase felines for educational outreach, start a feline breeding center, open a sanctuary, or purchase an exotic cat for personal reasons, there are laws and regulations in place that govern these activities. Legislation varies from state-to-state, so you must research before you act.
For large felines (tiger, lion, leopard, jaguar, cheetah, snow leopard, cougar) the Captive Wildlife Safety Act amendment to the Lacey Act requires proper permits for any interstate transport.
For all endangered species and sub-species of felines, the Endangered Species Act administered by the US Fish and Wildlife Service requires proper permits for interstate commerce of these felines.
Additionally there may be city or county regulations that also govern possession of wild and exotic felines. You need to research this before acquiring an exotic feline.
Visit the Summary of State Regulation of Wild Felines page to find each state agency's contact information and read a brief description of the state's laws.
Browse the other pages listed under this Regulations heading that provide information about F & W Service, ESA permits, Captive Wildlife Safety Act, Generic Tigers, importing wild felines, USDA licensing, and OSHA.