March 20, 2012

Missouri Dept. of Ag Begins Permitting Facilities for Large Carnivores

Permit process includes review of care, ownership and housing for lions, tigers and other large cats

The Missouri Department of Agriculture has begun the permitting process for owners of large carnivores, such as lions, tigers and cheetahs. Under Missouri's Large Carnivore Act owners must have a permit issued by the state agriculture department for each animal. The permitting process establishes standards for the care of large, non-native cats, as well as for facilities in which those animals are housed.

"We have made great strides in protecting the health and welfare of animals, their owners and the public through the Department's Animal Health Division over the past three years," said Director of Agriculture Dr. Jon Hagler. "We take our role in animal care very seriously and this is an integral part of ensuring that large carnivores are handled safely and responsibly."

The Large Carnivore Act was part of Senate Bill 795, which the Missouri Legislature passed and Gov. Nixon signed into law in 2010. The Act's finalized rules were published in the Dec. 31, 2011 issue of the Missouri Code of State Regulations.

Individuals who currently own large carnivores should complete a permit application and submit it to the Department. The application is available online at or by contacting the Department's Animal Health Division at (573) 751-3377. In addition to the permit application, owners must allow an animal health officer or veterinarian from the Department to inspect their facility. Each large carnivore must be permanently identified with a microchip or similar electronic identification and owners must also provide proof of liability insurance.

Additional requirements include having a disaster response and evacuation plan for each animal, being at least 21 years of age and notifying local law enforcement in writing upon receipt of the permit. Individuals who acquire a large carnivore in the future must complete the permit process before taking ownership of the animal. Owners must renew the permit for each animal annually.

Individuals transporting animals into Missouri must continue to provide a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection, also known as a health certificate, from a licensed veterinarian for each animal entering the state, according to existing regulations.

For more information about the Missouri Department of Agriculture and its programs, visit the Department online at