Nye County Sues Illegal Tiger Exhibitor

After PETA Appeal, Officials Seek Removal of Big Cats From Karl Mitchell's Nevada Property

For Immediate Release:
January 13, 2014

David Perle 202-483-7382

Pahrump, Nev. – After PETA presented compelling evidence and urged Nye County to take decisive action, county officials have just filed a civil nuisance abatement lawsuit against convicted criminal and notorious tiger abuser Karl Mitchell, his business (Big Cat Encounters, Inc.), and Ray Mielzynski, the owner of the property where Mitchell has been illegally keeping the big cats. The suit charges that the defendants failed to heed two notices of violation and a cease-and-desist letter by keeping the big cats after Mitchell’s conditional use permit was revoked because he continued to exhibit the cats illegally more than a decade after the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) had permanently revoked his exhibitor’s license. The lawsuit seeks a court order for removal of the big cats from the property, and PETA has offered to assist in relocating them to a reputable sanctuary if the county prevails.

“Nye County’s action means that Karl Mitchell’s days of terrorizing tigers may soon be over,” says PETA Foundation Deputy General Counsel of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Delcianna Winders. “This exhibitor has denied 5-week-old cubs water in order to ‘train’ them and left animals in unstable, filthy enclosures—and on top of that, he has kept exhibiting animals illegally.”

PETA initiated the legal wrangling in 2011 by filing a code complaint because Mitchell was keeping the big cats illegally. The Pahrump Regional Planning Commission (RPC) denied his application for a conditional use permit, but the Board of Commissioners (BOC) approved it on appeal before the RPC revoked it after having learned about his ongoing violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA). Finally, the BOC affirmed the revocation. The USDA has levied more than $100,000 in fines against Mitchell for violating the AWA.

In 2002, Mitchell shot and killed a tiger after the animal got out, and in 2005, a leopard kept by Mitchell bit off a woman’s finger.

For more information, please visit PETA’s blog.

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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind