Soliciting Feedback on the AWA Handling Regulations

Soliciting Feedback on the AWA Handling Regulations


The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) Animal Care program is considering revising the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) regulations governing handling and public contact of dangerous animals. Last year APHIS received over 15,000 comments from the public in response to a petition regarding public contact with dangerous animals. The comment period is open until August 31, 2016, as APHIS seeks the public’s input on additional questions that will help the agency better determine its course of action. View the docket here.

This website serves as the information hub as APHIS posts and solicits information in connection with this outreach initiative. The questions below outline the additional feedback APHIS is seeking as it considers potential revisions to the handling regulations.

APHIS will also keep all interested parties updated by sending out stakeholder messages. If you have not already done so, please consider joining the APHIS Stakeholder Registry. It is free to join, and you can customize it so you only receive updates on topics that interest you. Join the registry here.

APHIS’ main focus is ensuring the welfare of animals while striving to develop and enact the most appropriate measures to protect animals from any potential harm that can result from being handled by humans.

View APHIS Stakeholder Announcements here.

Listening sessions
Date Time (ET) Registration Link
Wednesday, June 29        1-3 PM Complete
Wednesday, July 6        1-3 PM Complete
Thursday, August 4        1-3 PM Complete

To Register for Listening Sessions

The listening sessions are being held using a telephone call-in service (AT&T).  Anyone interested in the topic, whether they want to speak or not, are encouraged to attend any of the 3 sessions listed.  All participants must register. The registration links are listed above.  Click on the one for the session you wish to attend and provide the information requested.  You may attend one, two or all sessions.

When you register, you will need to provide your name, phone number, e-mail address and your affiliation.  After you register for the conference you will receive an email containing the dial-in numbers, session access code, and a personalized attendee identification code.

Listening Session Guidelines

Each listening session will be 2 hours long.  Each speaker will be allotted 3 minutes to provide oral comments on one or more of the questions provided.  APHIS will not be responding to questions at this time.

The operator will be moderating the call.  Speakers will be in a queue and their phone will be unmuted when it is their turn to speak.  Due to the limited time for oral comments, all stakeholders are encouraged to submit full written comments on  Audio files and transcripts of the listening sessions will be available soon after each session on the Handling Dangerous Animals website.

If you have any problems registering for or connecting to a listening session, please email Dave Sacks at

We are seeking information on these questions:

1. What factors and characteristics should determine if a type of animal is suitable for public contact?  When the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) describes an animal as dangerous, there are certain characteristics we use to classify the animals, such as the size, strength, and instinctual behavior of an animal, risk of disease transmission between animals and humans (i.e., zoonoses such as Herpes B), and ability to safely and humanely handle or control the animal in all situations.

2. What animals should APHIS consider including under the definition of dangerous animals?  For example, are all nonhuman primates dangerous?  We currently identify some animals as dangerous, including, but not limited to, nondomestic felids (such as lions, tigers, jaguars, mountain lions, cheetahs, and any hybrids thereof), wolves, bears, certain nonhuman primates (such as gorillas, chimps, and macaques), elephants, hippopotamuses, rhinoceroses, moose, bison, camels, and common animals known to carry rabies.

3. What animals may pose a public health risk and why?  What risks does public contact with dangerous animals present to the individual animal and the species, and why?

4. What are the best methods of permanent, usable animal identification for dangerous animals?

5. What are the most humane training techniques to use with dangerous animals?

6. What scientific information (peer-reviewed journals preferred) is available that identifies the appropriate weaning ages for nondomestic felids, bears, elephants, wolves, nonhuman primates, and other dangerous animals? 

7. What industry, organizational, or governmental standards have been published for the handling and care of dangerous animals?

8. What constitutes sufficient barriers for enclosures around dangerous animals to keep members of the public away from the animals?  What methods (structures, distance, attendants, etc.) are needed to prevent entry of the public into an enclosure and keep the animal safe while still allowing for meaningful viewing?

Go to to submit comments

Audio recordings of listening sessions Transcripts of listening sessions Upcoming dates
Close of Comments Period August 31, 2016       

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