WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Captive Wildlife Safety Act, authored by U.S. Sens. Jim Jeffords, I – Vt., John Ensign, R- Nev., and James Inhofe, R – Okla., which prohibits the interstate transport of large cats like lions and tigers across state lines, was given final approval by the Senate last night. The legislation must now be approved by the House of Representatives before going to the President to be signed into law. An estimated 10,000 to 15,000 exotic cats are kept as pets in the United States. Nineteen states currently ban private possession of large exotic animals and 16 states have partial bans. However, no federal law restricts sale or ownership of these animals. The Captive Wildlife Safety Act amends the Lacey Act, which addresses shipments of fish and wildlife, by barring the interstate movement of these dangerous exotic animals. Facilities that operate under a U.S. Department of Agriculture permit, such as zoos and circuses, are exempt. Recent incidents, including the tragic injury suffered by Roy Horn during the Siegfried and Roy show in Las Vegas and the discovery of a large tiger being kept as a pet in a New York apartment, have brought added public attention to this issue. Jeffords said, "This legislation helps tame the wild cat trade in the United States by prohibiting the interstate transport of these animals. Untrained owners are just not equipped to handle wild lions and tigers in their homes and in our neighborhoods.” Ensign said, "We’re another step closer to protecting these magnificent big cats, which should only be kept by trained and licensed professionals. The goal of this bill is to stop people from keeping lions, tigers, and other big cats in their apartments or backyards, where they often wind up sick and mistreated or causing death or injury to their owners. I look forward to seeing this important bill signed by the President and would like to thank the Humane Society for their hard work and support in getting this bill through Congress.” Inhofe said, "This legislation addresses the escalating problem of unregulated interstate trade in large cats and ensures these exotic animals are handled by professionals. This is a public safety issue, and too many individuals have already been killed or injured by attacks."