Officials Urged to Shut Down Tiger Show Bid

PETA and CompassionWorks International Criticize Dangerous Proposal to Cage Big Cats Near McCarran International Airport

For Immediate Release:
July 21, 2020

David Perle 202-483-7382

Clark County, Nev. – This morning, PETA and locally based CompassionWorks International (CWI) sent a letter urging the Clark County Board of County Commissioners to deny an application by New Dewey Strip Holdings, LLC, to erect a circus tent on the South Las Vegas Strip for a show featuring tigers exploited by exhibitor Jay Owenhouse.

In the letter, PETA notes that Owenhouse plans to cage three tigers outdoors in an enclosure on the South Strip for six months, subjecting the big cats to oppressive heat and constant noise from the McCarran International Airport, which has an active runway near the proposed site. He has expressed no intent to comply with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) advisory note urging exhibitors to limit contact between humans and nondomestic cats, which was issued after multiple big cats were infected with COVID-19 by asymptomatic humans.

“Tigers are solitary hunters who roam dense jungle territories and enjoy soaking in streams—but this cruel, out-of-touch plan would keep them in cages and use them as living props in the fierce desert heat,” says PETA Foundation Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Rachel Mathews. “PETA is calling on officials to shut down this shameless exploitation of sensitive big cats for a buck.”

“Jay Owenhouse has shown little regard for the complex species-specific needs of the tigers he keeps,” says CWI Executive Director Carrie LeBlanc. “We’re counting on the board to show common sense and a humane outlook and to agree that such a cruel and dangerous spectacle has no place in our city.”

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—notes that Owenhouse has obtained tigers from Bhagavan “Doc” Antle, one of the major tiger breeders exposed in the Netflix docuseries Tiger King. In the big cat cub-petting industry, breeders churn out baby tigers, tear them away from their mothers, and, once they grow too large and dangerous for the public to handle, offload them to circuses or other exhibitors, relegate them to cramped cages, or dispose of them in other ways.

Just last year, the USDA cited Owenhouse for failing to ensure sufficient distance or a barrier between a tiger and the public—and in 2014, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service denied him Endangered Species Act permits for two tigers because his magic show did not enhance the propagation or survival of the species.

PETA opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. For more information, please visit

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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