Tiger Owner Who Put Stars In Danger Under Federal Investigation

PETA Seeks Criminal Charges Against Law-Breaking, Unlicensed Big Cat Exhibitor Karl Mitchell

For Immediate Release:
February 27, 2014

Moira Colley 202-483-7382

Pahrump, Nev. – Prompted in part by recent photos of actor Michelle Rodriguez and model Cara Delevingne walking and even kissing a juvenile tiger exhibited by notorious animal abuser Karl Mitchell, PETA has sent a formal complaint to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) asking that criminal charges be brought against Mitchell, who carries right on exhibiting tigers even though his legally required USDA exhibitor’s license was permanently revoked in 2001. Although the maximum allowable age for tigers to have direct physical contact with the public is 3 months old, PETA has learned that Louise, the tiger in the photos, was more than twice that age at the time of the shoot.

Mitchell has a long list of violations of federal animal welfare laws and previous criminal convictions, and documents just obtained by PETA further reveal that Mitchell’s continued violations, including his unlicensed involvement with an Animal Planet shoot, the Bradley Cooper film Hit and Run, and a photo shoot with Megan Fox and Brian Austin Green prompted the USDA to refer Mitchell’s case for prosecution to the U.S. Attorney’s Office last year. PETA is following up with the U.S. Attorney’s Office about the case and urging the USDA to seek additional criminal charges against Mitchell for his continued unlawful conduct.

“There are laws and regulations to protect animals and prevent the public from being harmed by animals, and Karl Mitchell has violated them,” says PETA Foundation Deputy General Counsel Delcianna Winders. “Michelle Rodriguez and others were lucky this time, but a vigorous and long-overdue criminal prosecution by the Department of Justice could help save animals and people from harm.”

Mitchell’s exhibitor’s license was revoked because of repeated violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act, including denying water to 5-week-old cubs. The USDA has also issued Mitchell three cease-and-desist orders—which he violated—and has ordered him to pay more than $100,000 in fines. After numerous PETA complaints, the Nevada county where Mitchell is based revoked his permit to keep tigers and is now seeking removal of the cats in a civil lawsuit.

For more information, please visit PETA.org.

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Media Response Team.


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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