Update: The U.S. Department of Agriculture rarely yanks exhibitors’ licenses, but tiger exhibitor Karl Mitchell had so many egregious animal welfare violations that his exhibitor’s license was revoked more than 10 years ago and he was fined $27,500. But that didn’t stop Mitchell, who flagrantly ignored the law, continued to exhibit animals illegally, and was issued no fewer than three cease-and-desist orders and ultimately assessed fines exceeding $100,000.
After PETA filed numerous complaints, officials in Mitchell’s home base of Nye County, Nevada, also revoked his conditional use permit to house tigers—another order that he simply ignored. Now, Nye County has finally filed a civil injunctive action ordering the removal of the big cats from the property.
Originally posted on April 17, 2013:
Karl Mitchell’s days of terrorizing big cats in Nevada’s Nye County are numbered now that the notorious animal abuser and unrepentant lawbreaker has had his permit to keep exotic animals revoked by the county’s board of commissioners based on information that it received from PETA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Like Abu Ghraib for Tigers
Mitchell, who owns an appalling tiger menagerie called Big Cat Encounters, has been exhibiting animals even though his exhibitor’s license was permanently yanked by the USDA in 2001, meaning that the county shouldn’t have issued him a permit in the first place.
In February 2012, PETA called on the USDA and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to seek criminal charges against Mitchell for exhibiting tigers and transporting them across state lines without a license. The federal investigations are still pending.
Over the years, the USDA has cited Mitchell repeatedly for a wide range of atrocious Animal Welfare Act violations, which include cruelly withholding water as a training technique, continuing to exhibit big cats illegally, and failing to provide animals with adequate veterinary care and living conditions and palatable food and water—just to name a few. Mitchell has also been slapped with three cease-and-desist orders (which he, of course, defied) and more than $100,000 in fines.
What You Can Do
Although Mitchell is a particularly flagrant and disgraceful example of the low ethical standards of his industry, misery is inescapable for all animals who are imprisoned so that they can furnish a momentary diversion instead of living their natural lives in freedom. Please never patronize any captive-animal attraction.