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New law blocks big cat selfies

Lion cub Simba held by Rafiki, a cartoon

Lion cub Simba held by Rafiki, a cartoon mandrill, in "The Lion King." (Credit: Disney Enterprises Inc.)

ALBANY — It’s the end of selfies with Simba in New York.

A bill signed into law Monday prohibits contact by the public with big cats at roadside zoos, fairgrounds, malls and other areas.

The new law signed by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo aims to protect not just curious animal lovers seeking a photo with wild cat cubs, or kittens, but also the big cats themselves. Think Simba, the big cat cub and star of the animated film “Lion King.”

The law seeks to curb the need for a continuous supply of cubs, which are most popular at the photo shoots. The lucrative business sometimes resulted in painful declawing of big cats when they are young, only to face neglect at substandard facilities as adults, the law stated.

“Though the photos may be cute and the animals may look sweet and fluffy, they are dangerous wild animals capable of serious violence, and the public should not be permitted to come into such close contact with them,” said Assemb. Linda Rosenthal (D-Manhattan), a sponsor of the bill.

The bill was sponsored in the Senate by Sen. Tony Avella (D-Whitestone).

A first offense comes with a $500 fine, which is doubled for a second offense.

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